I found this 1940s produce crate label for Dominator Tomatoes, used by the T.O. Tomasello Company of Watsonville, California, on ebay. It features a U.S. fighter plane. I got it along with several other labels featuring airplanes, thinking it would be cute to frame them for my then-young son’s airplane-themed room.
I never did get around to framing those labels. Never finished collecting all of the state quarters with him either, but somehow we’ve managed to carry on.
This time of year, tomatoes do indeed dominate. The tomato season in Houston is short, and the tomatoes are not pretty, but they taste great. These heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market a few weeks ago were wonderful with sliced red onions and kirby cucumbers, drizzled with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Although the Houston tomato season is pretty much over, we’re enjoying vine-ripened tomatoes from other parts of the U.S. My research indicates that Florida is the largest producer of fresh market tomatoes, whereas California produces almost all of the tomatoes processed in the U.S. The USDA says that we eat between 22-24 pounds of tomatoes per person annually, with more than half of those tomatoes used in ketchup and tomato sauce. And according to one survey, 93% of U.S. gardening households grow tomatoes.
The scientific name for tomatoes is lycopersicum (technically, either lycopersicon lycopersicum or solanum lycopersicum, depending on who you think is correct — oh, the controversies that arise in the plant-naming world!), which means “wolf peach,” and has its origins in German werewolf myths. According to legend, the nightshade plant (tomatoes are in the nightshade family) was used in potions by witches and sorcerers to change themselves into werewolves. When the similar, but larger tomato arrived in Europe, it was called “wolf peach.”
Tomatoes are believed to have originated in the Andes. The word tomato comes from the Aztec “xitomate,” which means “plump thing with a navel.” So the next time your loved one refers to you as a hot tomato, don’t be so flattered.
Botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit. For culinary purposes, which, let’s face it, are far more important than botanical purposes, a tomato is considered a vegetable. As I told my son, when he was studying for his theology final and trying to explain the difference between knowledge and wisdom:
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit;
|POMODORO BASILICO SALAD|| |
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 12 calamata olives, sliced
- 6 large basil leaves, thinly sliced into ribbons
- ½ of a small red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Place tomatoes, olives, basil, and onion in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together oil and vinegars, and pour over tomato mixture. Stir gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
You say to-may-to, I say delicious