I Hate Tomatoes
any food that you absolutely cannot stand, cannot eat, hate,
despise, or gag on? For me that is an easy question to answer.
It's a tomato, especially a raw tomato. Cooked tomatoes go
through enough of a metamorphous that they are difficult to
recognize; therefore, I am less prejudiced if the fruit is
disguised by blending with other food or spices -- lots of
Tomato ketchup is not very tasty, but who eats a
serving of ketchup? You dip your French fries and then can
barely taste it. Similarly, tomato sauce on pizza, in a nice
chili, or in a spicy barbeque sauce gets thumbs up. On the other
hand, tomato soup has nothing to kill the tomato taste except
maybe a cracker -- not enough in my book. Tomato juice? Don't
make me sick. I know it has Vitamin C. I don't care; I will take
a vitamin pill.
In the summer, everyone licks their lips over a
platter of sliced tomatoes. I purse my lips and pass them over.
At a restaurant, tomatoes are always served on your salad. I eat
around them. Little cherry tomatoes are the easiest, chopped
tomatoes the worse. Even the great American hamburger, is ruined
with slices of juicy red stuff. I try to remember to say the
magic words when I order, No tomatoes.
The jury is out on whether the tomato should be
considered a fruit or a vegetable. Botanically, it is considered
a berry, therefore a fruit. However, in the culinary world where
it is incorporated into a large variety of dishes, it is treated
as a vegetable. I suppose I dislike it as a fruit and like it as
a vegetable sort of.
When the tomato was first discovered, it was
considered poisonous. Indeed, it is a member of the deadly
nightshade family. The leaves are poisonous, but the fruit is
not. Historically, they were used as an ornamental and grown in
flower gardens instead of as an edible plant. Good idea! How can
something that looks so good taste so bad?
Speaking of gardens, my family members who have
not inherited my dislike of the obnoxious red fruit, like to
grow tomato plants in the summer. They say that home-grown
tomatoes have a much better flavor than the ones that are
commercially grown. Tomatoes grow on a weak, sprawling vine and
attract some god-awful insects, like the tomato hornworm.
Tomatoes are prolific producers and usually the number of fruits
far exceeds the ability of the back-yard farmer to consume or
give away to neighbors.
Tomatoes require a long growing season;
therefore, most commercial tomatoes in the U.S. are produced in
Florida or California. The red globes are one of the top ten
agricultural crops. Plants are perennial in their native habitat
of South America; however, they cannot withstand the winters in
less temperate climates and must be grown as annuals. Usually
seeds are planted in greenhouses and young tomato plants are
purchased and planted to help shorten the growing time.
The number of tomato products available in the
super market is endless, from fresh tomatoes to canned tomatoes,
even dried tomatoes. They are chopped, mashed, seasoned, made
into sauce or paste, pureed, powdered and frozen. It seems
impossible to avoid them. I really can't see any reason
whatsoever to grow or cook them myself.
In the early nineteenth century rotten tomatoes
were thrown at actors when the audience was displeased with a
performance. If you think tomatoes are delicious, you probably
feel very displeased with this column. Maybe I should get ready
to duck and dodge -- just in case.