All of my loyal readers know I have a sort of obsession with tomatoes and their quality, I think this is the third or fourth tomato post I’ve written, so if you are not concerned about the quality of your tomatoes, please ignore. Or read on and be entertained by my concern for a good tomato.
This was a great summer for tomatoes, the quality overall of tomatoes were good, and prices fell this summer. I saw heirlooms at the Union Square Greenmarket for $2.95 a pound, unheard of in the last seven years where at times the price soared to more than $5 a pound. Christ, the price for regular tomatoes at the Greenmarket has hovered at $4 a pound for a number of years now.
The first good “field tomatoes” I saw yesterday were $1.95 a pound. They looked pretty good, and I wanted to get some, but there was a large Russian woman who was picking up tomato after tomato and then just dropping them back onto the pile until she found satisfactory ones. I could tell the farmer guy wanted to stop her, but he just gave her the hard stare. She was too large to elbow aside, so I stood as close as possible to her and started reaching across her ample bosom when I could to grab a tomato before she picked it up and ruined it.
Not only was she dropping them, but also she was giving each one a good squeeze. I wanted to throttle her. I think the farmer guy did as well.
She finally settled on 4 or 5 tomatoes after touching at least half of the sixty or so tomatoes in the bin.
As she paid I was able to get the rest of mine. I selected four, after carefully holding each one in the palm of my hand and looking it over for bruising and the right color. Too pink and they are not ripe enough. I also check for breaks in the skin and black spots.
Some black spots are OK, you just have to make sure you eat the tomato in a day or so before the black spot develops into an open sore.
I watched the guy give the Russian woman the hard stare as she paid, but she was oblivious, the kind of self-centered person who does whatever they want and tough shit if you don’t like it, sort of like the Russian Prime Minister. Then he looked at me and gave the slightest little shake of the head. I smiled back in sympathy, giving him my best “Whatta you gonna do?” grin.
I paid for my four little treasures and walked on, looking for asparagus. I knew it would be tough to find, for some reason asparagus only comes out for a week or two in the middle of the summer and then it’s gone, but I did have hope.
Across from Barnes and Noble I saw more good tomatoes, redder than the ones I’d just bought. Damn, I thought, I should have waited. I always do that, jump at the first good thing I see and then lament that I should have waited. They were $2 a pound and I bought 2 of them. I can never have too many tomatoes, I told myself. Except if I don’t eat them right away I will have to throw them out. But I couldn’t resist their color.
You can buy really red tomatoes at places like Whole Foods and Fairway, especially the “vine-ripened stem tomatoes,” but I tell you they are shit. The worst tomatoes you can buy, no matter how pretty they look. Give me a dusty, splotchy weird shaped tomato anytime, thanks. I’ve learned my lesson buying engineered tomatoes at the big stores; they are hard and tasteless and they’re not kidding when they call them “stem” tomatoes as they have a hard white stem inside that is inedible, and it’s a good 20% of the tomato’s weight.
The little tomatoes they sell at the big stores are usually not too bad, but you have to eat them quick because they get watery in a hurry.
I posted in the beginning of the summer about my Amish friends at the Graham Avenue market around the corner from my home who had awesome tomatoes for the past few years, but sadly this year their tomatoes were not very good. They were hard and pink, and I wonder if they picked them too soon or froze them or what, but I stopped buying them.
There is another farmer at the Graham Avenue market, a surly Russian woman who with her two sons has had the best tomatoes this year. I felt a little like I was cheating on the Amish, who are anything but surly by buying her tomatoes instead, but taste and texture wins out over demeanor. The surly woman also has some pretty good kale and lettuce; for some reason the Amish haven’t had any lettuce this year.
They do, however have some really great honey. Danusia loves their honey, actually I do too, and I just don’t use it as much as Danusia does, but I bought a big jar of it for us this morning. I got some homemade pepper jack cheese as well, since I wasn’t buying any tomatoes today.
We still have kale from last week; you get a gigantic bunch for $2 that lasts forever. I’m glad kale is so hardy it keeps for a long time in the fridge.
Well, that’s it folks, my latest tomato story. If you haven’t read the others, it’s easy to go back on my site and find them, and then you can see the evolution of my thoughts on tomatoes and surly people.