Tomatoes – I guess I’m in love
That’s the only reasonable explanation.
I am in love with tomatoes. I say this because I have been nurturing a box of green tomatoes for a week or so now.
It sounds weird, doesn’t it.
Until a few weeks ago, I had never given green tomatoes a thought. I’ve seen the movie ‘Fried Green Tomatoes,’ of course, but had never seen them in a store, so I figured they were just a southern thing. No actually, they are a northern thing.
I happily accepted the box of green tomatoes I was offered – grown lovingly in bales of straw – but I didn’t want to admit in the moment that I had no idea what I would do with them. I’m a person who likes to know things and not knowing anything at all about green tomatoes was not a comfortable feeling.
In my defense, when I grew tomatoes in my Toronto backyard over the years, I was lucky to get a single tomato -green, red, or otherwise – because the squirrels and raccoons always got to them first. So, I blame them for my ignorance.
As I lugged my box of tomatoes to my apartment, I ran into my superintendent Ralph. He asked about the box and told me that his grandmother always used to cover her green tomatoes with newspaper and put them in a sunny window to ripen. Ripen. That was my first clue. I didn’t know whether green tomatoes were a special variety of tomatoes, or just unripe regular tomatoes. And now I knew – or at least suspected. When I got into the apartment I needed somewhere to put the tomatoes and there just happened to be a perfect spot on the radiator under the window.
I turned to Google next, as you do, and learned a lot more. Apparently tomatoes only turn red if they reach 75°F. Once the fall hits, 75°F can be elusive, especially in Thunder Bay. I figured my unripe tomatoes wouldn’t be going bad any time soon, so I did some more research.
On my kitchen shelf was a book about tomatoes. It had a few recipes for green tomato chutney and salsa, but nothing that really inspired me. I scoured a few more books and then realized I should just fry them. I mean they named a book and a movie about it, so they must be good.
Man, they were. So good. I kept it simple. I coated them with egg and then dredged them in semolina, paprika, and salt. I fried them till they were soft and brown and then I served them with a bit of fresh mozzarella. Heaven.
Every day I checked the box in the window, and to my delight and surprise, every day I found more red tomatoes. My little tomato babies were growing up! I’ve made a sauce with the red ones and a few more batches of fried green ones. The box is not nearly as full now. I might try a fried green tomato tart this afternoon. We’ll see how the day shapes up.
I’ve always known that I loved tomatoes.
Every August I buy a bushel of San Marzanos and can them so I can have beautiful tomatoes all winter. But this, this was different. I discovered and explored a whole new kind of tomato and I did my utmost to help them reach their tomato destiny.