Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Tomato By Any Other Name Would Still Taste As Gross

...or would it?

I hate tomatoes.  Have always hated tomatoes, for as far back as I can remember tomatoes have made me want to barf, copiously.  So slimy!  So bitter.  So reminiscent of putrid dirt coated in mucus.  So utterly, absolutely disgusting!

Growing up, our mom let us choose 2 foods we never had to eat.  I had three foods I detested, so I had to do some fancy footwork any time something I didn't like was served, trying to assure my mom that tonight's food was one of my two foods.  Squash and bananas rotated through.  But tomatoes?  They were always on my list of "won't eats."  I let liver stay on my list more often than tomatoes!  (And, yes, my mother actually served us LIVER!  And you thought YOUR parents were mean.)

Anyway, I hated tomatoes so much it took me all the way to high school before I ever tried salsa for the first time.  And even then, I would only dip the chips in the watery stuff around the tomatoes and then shake the chip off.  Tomato soup was out.  Tomatoes on sandwiches were a deal breaker.  Even soups and stews and chili with obvious tomatoes were given the heave ho. 

And then, about a year ago, I went to a wonderful restaurant with a girlfriend where they serve primarily home-grown, local, organic, and scratch-made food.  We decided to share a salad for an appetizer that I thought was a green salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil on it.  It was listed as a SALAD, you know.  But when it was served it was just tomatoes with mozzarella and basil on top!  That's not a salad, that's a travesty!  That travesty is called a caprese, which everyone on earth who eats tomatoes would probably have immediately recognized from the description.  But being a tomato hater, I was clueless.  And now I didn't know what I was going to do. So as I sat there contemplating just how rude it would be on a scale of 1-10 to eat all the cheese myself and leave my friend with the nasty tomatoes, she took a bite of one...and proceeded to assure me how delicious it was.  (YA RIGHT.  I've heard these tomato tricks before.  My dad has been pulling them on me since I was born.)  But since, ultimately, eating all the cheese would have scored me at least an 8 1/2 on the dirtbag scale, I decided to suck it up and eat a tiny sliver of tomato with my cheese.  (I'm SUCH a good friend.)  And can you imagine what happened next?   I did NOT puke!  In fact, I was stunned to discover that this tomato was honestly not disgusting!  Actually edible. Borderline...good??  Well, I won't go that far, but very very NOT AWFUL! 

How could this be???  I have two words for you:


Don't ask me why God created a whole class of tomatoes that are not revolting and then hid them away for 30 odd years while tricking us all into eating the revolting kind, but He did.  Heirloom tomatoes are not gross!  Really!  Take it from a true tomato despiser. 

Of course, I thought it might be a fluke. So a full year later I raised the courage to try them again.  I bought some baby heirloom tomatoes at the organic store this week, bought a basil plant, made a balsamic vinegar reduction, and cut up some fresh mozzarella balls.  I put it all on top of toasted baguette (because I figured drowning tomatoes out with strong bread is never a bad idea...just in case they revert to being revolting) and drizzled the whole thing with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  And, miraculously, once again, I actually ate tomatoes that didn't make me want to barf!  Now, I won't say I want to marry an heirloom tomato or anything.  But I just wanted to share this little piece of information:  if you're ever backed into a corner where you are forced to take hot needles in the eye or eat tomatoes, ask for an heirloom!  Your eyes will thank me. 

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