Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tomato alley

Tomatoes, of course, are reddening the Cherry Street Farmers Market these weekends. Especially the cherries. (The golden "cherry" tomatoes of the Three Spring Farm kids a glorious exception.)

The squashes and zucchinis are lining up in firm regiments, and the basil is thick as thieves. Meaning, ratatouille time.

At 15th and Peoria, Everybody has a home-groan tomato to sell. Even Paul Halvaci, whom you might recognize if you ate coneys downtown regularly (or with cheese) between, like, 1960 and 2000 or so. Anyway, Paul, God bless his Greek-fed soul, was displaying a very pittance of a garden variety collection Saturday - a few cucumbers and zukes, some herbs, some chiles, not much else. But I bought some of his tomatoes because, well, I bought some of his coneys. And because.

"Here," Paul said, tossing a fourth tomato into my basket, "four, four. Two dollars." That way, at 50 cents a tomato, he wouldn't have to find change.

The farmers turn their tomatoes stem-down on their tables, to hide the cracks. But they needn't. Summer cracks - the result of rain and heat - are signs of life and flavor untapped. Slice away the gray zones, if you must. Or buy the perfect tomatoes sitting pretty on the store shelves, with their Martha Stewart color and their museum-like stems. Yummy.

Yes, ratatouille is a movie. And a concoction: an answer to a burden of bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and zucchinis that blossom in the heat of Provence. We should come up with a name of our own, so ripe are we Green Countrians with said ingredients.

Summer stew? Nah, let's work on it.

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