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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Searching for Tomatoes

You probably are aware that tomatoes had kind of a rough and tumble type of history. "...most Europeans thought that the tomato was poisonous. This was because in the 1500’s, rich people used pewter for their dinnerware and flatware. Pewter has a high-lead content and when it comes in contact with foods high in acid, such as tomatoes, the lead would leech out into the food. This would result in lead poisoning and death.

Poor people, who ate off plates made of wood, did not have that problem. This is essentially the reason why tomatoes were only eaten by poor people until the 1800's”.

In the 1800’s, Americans still had a great deal of uncertainty concerning the safety of eating tomatoes. Their worries were finally over when Colonel Robert Gibbon announced he would eat an entire basket of tomatoes in front of a crowd in Salem, New Jersey. He sat on the Court House steps and began consuming tomato after tomato.

“A countless crowd gathered to view his zany spectacle. He did as promised, and the antsy crowd stood in sheer terror while he consumed the tomatoes. The atmosphere changed to amazement when he continued to stand and did not die”.

I became more aware of the broad use of this fine fruit when I recently visited Italy. As you probably know, the tomato is the most prevalent ingredient in Italian dishes. But what amazed me most, is the Italian tomato doesn’t taste like the tomatoes we have in the states. The Italian tomatoes have an abundance of flavor!

I also learned that the Italian tomato is considered the most flavorful of all the tomatoes in the whole WORLD. And out of all the Italian tomatoes, it is the San Marzano variety that is considered the best of the best. It is the San Marzano variety that is grown exclusively around Naples and Mount Vesuvius area, which is where I visited and became enamored with the tomato.

Now that I am back in the states, I am on a quest to find a flavorful AMERICAN tomato. I want to use flavorful tomatoes in my new cooking adventure that I am undertaking (NOT undertaker, underTAKING) .

So let me know if you have any tomato variety recommendations for my new quest. I promise to not mix it with any pewter platters.