Firstly, may I apologise for the radio silence on the site of late, and especially to all those of you who have commented without response.
And secondly, by way of redressing the balance, I’d like to talk about tomatoes.
Up until my twenties, tomatoes were in my category of inedibles. In all forms. That included pizza, ketchup, bloody mary, the lot. But then, as I think I’ve described, I developed a tolerance, and even a liking for ketchup on burgers. These days, I actually choose to have ketchup on certain things. And from that, I developed a tolerance, and even a liking for pizza. Then later, when I learned to cope with pasta, I learned to cope with Dolmio and Ragu-type sauces (bits picked out of course).
In fact, if I haven’t had something tomato-based for a while, I find I start to crave it.
The other day, I found myself having to eat out at a new Italian restaurant nearby, because their pizza sauce is so tomatoey, I knew nothing else I could make myself would come close. I thought about that for a minute, and so it dawned on me, that I live right by Portobello Market, with fresh fruit and veg sold daily. What would be stopping me from buying some actual real tomatoes myself?
So I bought two tomatoes, took them home, and lovingly skinned them, the way we were taught in Home Economics at school, back in the days when they were a non-food. You hold them over heat until the skin pops. And then I cut them up small, taking care to remove all the pippy bit in the middle, and popped them in a blender, which I bought several years ago for just such a purpose, but haven’t had the courage for before.
I have to say, I was rather disappointed with the result, which was good and runny, but smelled like the inside of a pumpkin, and didn’t taste much better. It made the sides of my mouth want to get away from it, or get ready to gag. So I phoned around a few people, and discovered that you have to cook the stuff.
I put a little olive oil in a pan, and poured in the tomato mush, together with a little salt and pepper and sugar and tomato puree, and two basil leaves (which I later fished out, of course), and let it all cook for a while. After some time, it began to smell delicious, and to take on the texture of a lovely pizza sauce.
And so it was that I discovered a way to eat actual tomatoes. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to eat them fresh. You know those little cherry tomatoes that people say are so delicious? Maybe by the time I’m 40, who knows.
So I grant you, it’s rather a lot of effort to go to, but I’m putting it down as a success story. I’ve tried it a few times since with variations (do NOT put oregano in it, whatever you do), and correspondingly varying degrees of success.
What I’m thinking though, is that it’s taken me 34 years to get to this point with one food item. I’m a little bit daunted by the number of remaining food items outstanding. It doesn’t feel like I’m going to have time in my lifetime really. So it’s with a mixed feeling that I post this, but on the whole I think it’s a positive.
Has anyone else got any tips or tricks or success stories, I wonder? I’d love to hear them.