Tomatoes. I still cringe when I say the word. My whole life I have been repulsed by their flavor. No, it isn’t the texture. Yes, I like ketchup. Don’t ask me either of those questions. It is the flavor of raw tomatoes that has grossed me out for 30 years. However, this summer, the Summer of Tomatoes, I have committed to learning to love those little red b*tches. Until now I have shoved them aside, passed them to my husband, or specified to a waiter “No tomatoes please” even when they weren’t listed on the menu. One bit of that tomato goop on my burger and it is over.
Why am I doing this? Everyone seems to love tomatoes! People get really excited about a delicious tomato. I feel left out. I want to love them! I want to exclaim, “WOW! That is a GREAT tomato!” and mean it. Mostly though, in order to eat local produce in my state I really have to like tomatoes. Without tomatoes, the local produce is dramatically reduced (although there is still plenty). How can I be a CSA member and NOT like tomatoes? We got TONS last season and expect to get TONS this season.
Here is my plan: eat tomatoes. Yeah, that’s it. I’m going to start with grape and cherry tomatoes; Mike says those are the best. From there, I’ll move into plum tomatoes and on up to the big beefsteak tomatoes.
In fact, I’ve already started. The first several tomatoes were tough. I had to comfort myself. It isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon. A tomatoathalon. You can do this, Michelle. You’re a strong person. You’re a foodie. You have to like tomatoes. It is delicious. It is delicious. It is delicious. And before I knew it I had eaten a tomato without gagging. That’s a big step! You know what? I did it again! Another tomato down the hatch without gagging.
Tonight I took another significant step in my tomatoathalon. I used tomatoes in the dish I made for dinner. I didn’t even roast them or do anything to alter their inherent flavor. I used them for real.
For dinner I made tomato-basil pasta that buy from Heyser Farm (handmade in Amish country!) and sauteed some onion, red pepper, garlic, and some halved cherry tomatoes. (I don’t want to brag, but I also ate like 3 of them raw. Yep. I did.) Then I tossed in some minced arugula blossoms — they added a tangy, peppery flavor. And to top it off, some pieces of smoked mozzarella that I picked up at the farmers market. It was a delicious dish, tomatoes and all!
At this point anyone who knows me well is in total shock. Michelle does NOT eat tomatoes. Well folks, this new Michelle eats tomatoes. Get used to it. I know I am.