How I Fell in Love With a Tomato...
I can't remember the first tomato I ate, what it's color was, or how it tasted. There are, however, tomato colored memories that flash through my mind when I am out among those big green vines.
Some of my very first memories have tomatoes ingrained in them. In his garden, my grandfather introduced me to a Better Boy. Salt shaker in hand, he would pick a soft, red, warm tomato. Sliced with a pocket knife, he would give me a wedge liberally sprinkled with sea salt. I can remember tasting the sun. Warm, sweet, and tart all at the same time. Juice running down my chin and the slurp associated with the big greedy bites. I remember the taste of that tomato patch, along with weathered hands and wrinkled smiling eyes.
I have different memories later on. When I married, the first thing I bought to go with the newly remodeled house (the home where my grandfather was born) was a tiller. $400.00. The price tag seemed hefty to a couple of newly weds with barely a penny to our name. Somehow we managed to bring home that shining silver beast. Parked in the old chicken coop, I used it until my fingers were blistered and sore. A husband that didn't like tomatoes, I was determined to challenge his opinion with my tiller and a tiny piece of soil. I introduced him to the taste of the sun. Salt shaker in hand, juice dripping down our chins. His love for the tomato was born in the dirt behind that old coop and my love was reborn.
I dove into the world of heirlooms. Oddly shaped and colored tomatoes that often bear a smaller yield. However, with the first sun kissed bites, I fell in love. Head over heels in love. Smaller yields were made up for with abundant flavors, notes of pine and sage lingering on my taste buds.
Years later, I am a mom. As soon as my little farmhands could chew they were introduced to sun warmed heirloom cherry tomatoes. Little pudgy hands reaching for jewels hidden among the vines. I fell in love all over again watching the juice drip down their chins and their eyes light up as they discovered they could taste the sun.
It never ceases to amaze me, year after year I stumble across new varieties. Every year I fall in love all over again. There are new flavors to discover, old flavors to rediscover, and there is always the sun dancing on my tastebuds.