This tomato is not readily accepted in many parts of Europe where it remains suspect because it is a member of the night shade family which includes other poisonous plants. Even in England it was and is grown as an ornamental plant.
Now do not tell these stories to Italy and Spain where the tomato is used in sandwiches, salads, pasta, pizza, chili, ketchup and salsa. For the US, Joseph Campbell created the world's largest soup company by first canning large beefsteak tomatoes.
For the history buffs, it is believed that the tomato was originated in tropical South America and made its way to Central America with migration of the Indians. It was one of the main foods which Columbus brought back to Spain. It was then carried to the Carolinas from Europe. However, it didn't appear in American markets until the19th Century.
The tomato which is usually referred to as a vegetable is botanically a fruit, actually the fruit of the vine or a berry. Under a 1893 tariff, a 10 per cent duty was placed on vegetables. Importers were upset when tomatoes were taxed. In 1893 the U.S. Supreme Court decided that even though tomatoes were botanically fruits, along with cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas, they were in common language called vegetables. That and the fact that they were not served like fruit as a desert left them taxable as an imported vegetable.
There are over 1000 varieties grown in the United States but China still produces three times the amount of tomatoes as America with India and Italy close to the States. In the States California leads production with Florida following with 1/8th as many as Calif. Arkansas and Missouri are not in the running, especially after the heat waves we have had the last couple of years.
A note. While tomatoes are harvested and shipped before they ripen are not as tasty, buy they are equal in nutrition to those that are vine ripened. So buy Missouri tomatoes and Arkansas vegetables or fruits or whatever they call tomatoes.
Tomatoes should not be refrigerated until completely ripe and should be stored stem side up.
For an idea on how to cook up these tomatoes, start with breakfast with Eggs and Tomatoes or Uova Al Con Pomdori.
Four, servings take:
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra from brushing
4 large tomatoes
Pinch of dried oregano
1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig, chopped
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil.
3. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh.
4. Sprinkle the insides with a little salt and place upside down on paper towels for 10 minutes to drain.
5. Season the insides of the tomatoes with oregano and pepper and divide the olive oil among them
6. Place the tomatoes in the prepared dish and bake for 20 minutes. 7. Remove the dish from the oven break an egg into each tomato. 8. Return the dish to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes.
9. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Red Tomato Frittata or Frittata Rossa Di Pomodori
For four servings start with:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
½ garlic clove, chopped
11 ounces plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
1.Heat the oil in a skillet.
2.Add the shallot and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
3.Add the tomatoes, increase the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.
4.Beat the eggs with salt, pepper and the basil leaves in a bowl.
5.Pour the eggs over the tomatoes and cook until evenly set.
6.Do not turn the frittata over.
7.Slide it out of the pan and serve.
Have a Happy
Larry Eiker is a Kennett resident who enjoys traveling all over the world and experiencing great food, while bringing some of those ideas back home to the Bootheel to
share with others.