Red Tomato’s

redtomatos

Introducing the tomato.

It comes in many shapes, sizes and colours but it’s best known wearing a red coat and whether or not you believe it to be part of the vegetable family or fruit, it has graced our plates and tables for many years.

So why have I chosen to feature our red friend?  Well,  I’ll tell you.

Life was simple, free and easy growing up in the states during the 70’s and as a kid, I had the pleasure of regularly visiting farmer’s markets and helping my brother and later on my parent’s tend to an extensive and beautiful vegetable garden in the heart of Northern Maine, New England.

At a very early age, I remember my father bringing home his favourite plum tomato’s and eating them like candy.  They were bright red, shiny and were still attached to their vine with soft and fragrant leaves. It’s hard to explain the scent but I guess they smelled like sweet earth to me. I loved them and they were easy to pop in your mouth.

“Where’s the beef?”  Beefsteak tomato’s… now this one is the Daddy of all tomato’s!  As much as I’d like to say my first experience of this meaty fruit was in New York, I will hold my hand’s up and admit that New Jersey at that time had the best! (sorry fellow New Yorka’s)

Now this is one that can ONLY be enjoyed 2 ways:

  1. cut in half, salted and eaten like an apple
  2. Sliced thick and served on a juicy burger

My summer’s spent in Maine as a child were magical. It was like camping,  an adventure of sorts and it helped me to appreciate nature and the simplistic life. What kid wakes up in the morning, picks tomato’s, green beans and sweet peas off of their vine’s and eats them quite happily whilst walking through a maze of blooms to reach a babbling brook only steps away?  It was me and I am grateful.

There’s a bit more to this story, which was the motivation for this post.  Moving to Northern UK was a culture shock for me in the beginning and I had to adjust to many differences, mainly food.   My first tomato experience here was completely different.

Entering the quite reputable kebab take-away… so you can probably gather that I’m pretty darn passionate about food in general.  “What would you like on your kebab Miss?”  “Oh, I’d like tomato, lettuce, onions and whatever else you have in the way of salad please.”  I got home and opened the carefully wrapped package.  Orange?? These tomato’s are orange.  My husband (who is not entirely passionate about food in general) replied, “what’s wrong with that?”

My reply: “Everything darling, just everything.”

How good is your memory?

The human mind is an amazing thing don’t you think?

Throughout the years, I’ve tested myself to see how far back my memories reach, which thankfully land as far back as the age of 3-4.  (I’m in my 40’s by the way)

These moments in time are so clear to me, that I can almost picture myself there now. I’m visualising where I was, what I was doing and matching those visions with triggers such as food flavours and scent’s. Yes, I believe that our senses are quite strong.

Since I’m being honest here, I’ll give you a few examples of what I mean.

Milk… it’s good for growing kids and we must drink it. (mom said so) I didn’t like drinking it plain at all… especially after my mom decided to serve it in one of those 1960’s pearl lustre type mugs, which gave it an odd paint-like sour taste. (No, I’ve never tasted paint in case you’re wondering)

pearlmug

So as you can imagine, from that moment forward I opted for nestle chocolate or strawberry quik. I was 4, so you can clearly now understand how powerful taste senses can be.  To prove this is not a “one-trick-pony” example, I’ll fast forward to aged 7.

My parents loved to introduce me to old movies as a kid because they grew up and lived through the depression era.  Sunday afternoon movies with the parents were great and as I sat on the couch, still in my pyjamas some days,and watching on this particular day Laurel and Hardy, my mom made us both a cup of Jasmine tea (you know, the loose kind that requires one of those strainer things?) This was a luxury item then and probably chosen because it was served  at the local Chinese restaurant that my family and I visited for many years.

jasmine tea

I probably liked the smell more than the taste but every time I drink it now as an adult, I think of Laurel and Hardy movies and the plaid couch I was sitting on.

Speaking of Chinese food and having grown up in New York,  I can’t help thinking of my experience with Pu-Pu.  You heard me, and it’s not a typo.. it’s actually a pretty wonderful experience for kids and adults. (Visual with descriptive review below)

Not that I’m drooling or anything.. okay, I am!  I was first introduced to this magnificent beast when my parents would take me to our local Chinese restaurant in the suburbs of New York.  I was dazzled by the blue, red and yellow  flame created with a jelly type substance and the “mini” BBQ effect.  Generally, the first item I grabbed was the beef teriyaki stick purely because I could hold it over the fire. Total joy and the hot flame made the flavour explode even more. Next I went for the spare ribs… again, easy to hold over the fire and sometimes I would heat it just long enough to see a little flame appear. Camp fire anyone?

There was a process when enjoying this and boy, did I enjoy it!  One of my other favourite items was fried jumbo shrimp, which was coated in batter. This I dipped in what they called duck sauce, although it wasn’t made of duck but rather used on duck dishes… I think.  It’s a sweet fruity sauce that is probably made with mandarins, but makes the savoury shrimp all the more tasty.

It was very sad when we finished the platter… farewell tasty tidbits and tiny barbecue.. till we meet again.

Do you have any fond food memories?  If so, I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading

Hands-on

This blog is a prequel to something new and exciting that I’m working on..stay tuned 🙂