Talking Tomato Again-Beautifully Ugly Heirlooms!

January 23, 2013

Tomatoes again, I’m afraid, have provoked me to blog! This time it’s not New Mexico (see earlier post), but the other side of the world, New Delhi. Unlike the euphoria I felt from the proliferation of the nightshade fruit/vegetable in the Southwestern American sun, I was overcome by despondency at the preponderance of red plum tomatoes in the produce stalls in groceries here in India, variants of the Roma hybrid that were created in the States. This was done precisely with¬†Italianate sauces, canned and fresh, in mind: less water, more flesh, ergo more thick sauces. Nothing wrong with that, besides the tougher skin also makes the variety more warehousable and transportable and presumably packable. But like all foods manipulated for convenience, flavor and indeed fragrance have fallen by the wayside on the journey to success. My eggplant and tomato ratatouille that I used to make Kashmiri style with oh! so rotund tomatoes that smelled like tomatoes, is definitely not the same dish when prepared with oval Roma Replacement.

After looking long and hard for the old tomatoes in the stores here I succeeded! I found them, looking reassuringly familiar, beautifully misshapen, no one fellow looking like the other, in shape or color, delightfully unruly and unregimented, and when I cooked them, as deliciously authentic as ever.

It made no difference that they cost twice as much as the new kid on the block.

I began to see why real tomatoes in the US are called Heirloom. As well as, and incorrectly I must say, Ugly!

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