Another re-evaluation occurred whilst cooking a fantastic dinner with James this past weekend. I was working the fry station, making some tempura avocado. He was slicing Burrata (fresh buffalo mozzarella, injected with cream) and brown Kumato Tomatoes I found at Trader Joe’s. A general rule of mine is to always try new foods. Whether it be pig ears or simply a new variety of tomato. So Jimmy had sliced one of these tomatoes up real nice. They were to be used for burgers later that night. Although they looked more purple on the outside, when sliced, the green flesh melded with the purple skin and I actually did see a hint of brown. It wasn’t just a gimmick. I have this habit of sneaking slices of tomato in its naked state any chance I get. One slice went into my mouth. It makes my mouth go BOOM! It makes my brain go ZOOM! There is almost nothing more satisfying than that pure flavor tomato. Do you like tomato? If not, may god be like Uncle Jessie and…have mercy.
You may discuss the flavor characteristics that wine gains based on its terroir? That same thoughtful analysis can be applied to the humble tomato as well. Just like wine, you can, if you’re looking for them, find so many flavors of other foods hiding in the background. Take this brown Kumato, off the top of my head I was reminded of buttery bread, earthy mushrooms, crisp green onion, tangy gooseberries and fresh white grapes. I have to take a step back sometimes and really appreciate what the land gives me. It’s more than something here to keep me from falling over dead. Otherwise, we wouldn’t love closing our eyes to discover these amazing flavors in food and the wonderful memories that bubble up because of it. I remember as a boy, sitting at the kitchen table with my mom, dad and brother. My mom would go out and pick vine ripened tomatoes from our garden. She would wash and slice them, fan them out on a plate and sprinkle them with salt, that was it. That’s all you needed most times to make dinner special. That kind of memory comes back to me every time I take a bite of something truly amazing. I think that’s why I feel that I can’t make a bad meal or screw up a recipe. I have to do the food justice, and show some respect to the people who taught me to appreciate the complexity in the simplest of things.