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Tomatoes: a pet peeve

Chef JimI’m going to write more about food pet peeves tomorrow, but I thought since it’s the middle of July, that a stand-alone post about tomatoes is in order.

Now, I feel blessed to live in Madison, where we have one of the best farmer’s markets in the nation (and I’m not exaggerating…look up the Dane County Farmer’s Market). Anyway, I also belong to an awesome CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with a local farm, Driftless Organics. But we get our box from the farm every other week and this past weekend was an “off” week. No problem, I can always head to the market on Saturday. But since my wife was out of town and I had our 3-year old in tow, the fact that an art fair moved the market off the “square” to a much more congested area of downtown, I decided to just get what I needed from the grocery store.

Which leads me to my gripe today–tomatoes.

Is it too much to ask that a “vine ripe” tomato in the grocery store, is, you know, vine ripe? Instead they are mealy and disgusting, something I expect in January, not in July. I am guessing that these tomatoes are grown in a hothouse, and/or are plucked before they should be plucked. But come on. Even the “cluster” tomatoes, the ones that are sold with the vines, are crappy from the grocery store.

There is no substitute for a farm-fresh tomato in the summer, or one you grow yourself (we didn’t do that this year but I’m regretting that decision already). But there is also zero excuse for a store–even a chain grocery store–to sell a crappy, mealy tomato in the heat of summer. It’s also a crime for a restaurant to serve mealy tomatoes this time of year, but raise your hand if you’ve had a mealy restaurant tomato recently. I know I see a lot of hands from where I sit because it’s true!

Anyway, I hope our CSA share has some tomatoes, and even if it does, I’m buying more from the market this weekend. It’s time for tomato sandwiches, one of the best parts of summer, and there is no room on my bread for crappy-ass tomatoes!

  

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