Friday, March 27, 2015
chasing the tomato
Our recent rainstorm has had one effect that I did not predict.
Tomatoes have been an ongoing topic for my essays. And I have not been alone in my lamentations.
For some reason, I thought I would find tasty tomatoes at every turn in Mexico. After all, this is the country where the original was developed by the Indians as a food item. Back then, it was probably yellow and about the size of a cherry tomato.
With that pedigree, I was under the impression that I would be in tomato heaven in Melaque.
It was not to be. Our local soil is rife with tobacco mosaic disease and 'mater-chomping insects. As a result, all tomatoes here are regularly doused with chemicals of every brew.
And the tomato varieties grown here are exactly what you would find in your local Safeway -- Romas and a rather tasteless round variety. Don Cuevas informed us in You say "Tomato," she says "Tomahto," I say "Criollo" he discovered another variety on his travels to Oaxaca.
I also noticed the Criollos in the markets in Oaxaca when we were there in January. They appeared to be a variety similar to the tomatoes I enjoyed in Barcelona.
But we have none here. The best we can get are cherry tomatoes. They are an adequate substitute for my Greek salad.
What I was not prepared to see were the piles of green-yellow-red blotched tomatoes that are currently in almost all of our local grocery stores. They started showing up a few days ago.
I asked Alex at Hawaii what had happened. "The rain," he responded. The heavy rains earlier in the month caused the plants to collapse. The tomatoes are refugees of disaster. The Syrians amongst us.
Southerners could turn this into a culinary opportunity by pulling out their fried green tomato recipes. Me? I am going to wait until the shelves are cleared before I start cooking any tomato-based dishes.
But I may indulge in one of my favorite Mexican dishes -- chicken. I prefer mine char-grilled. However, this street advertisement may convince me to take a turn with a rotisserie chicken.
I cannot quite figure out if the chicken is still wearing its bathing suit -- or if those are merely tan lines. Either way, it was creepy enough to catch my eye.
Imagine the reaction if that sign appeared on a street in Chicago? Or imagine the comments if a blogger posted it online in Mexico?
But I have stirred enough pots this week.