Monday, August 24, 2009

Our heritage includes tomatoes.

One of the best things about London, Ontario, is how easy it is to leave it. Being centrally located in southwestern Ontario is a great location. A glance at the map and one immediately sees London is close to both Lake Erie and Lake Huron and that a visit to the the Stratford Festival requires but a very short drive.

What may not be so obvious is how close London is to both Toronto and points beyond. Even when traffic is hindered by construction, as it seems to be every summer, the 401 is one heck of a highway. One can go from London to Prince Edward County, a very special place, in less than four hours. My wife, Judy, and I did this just that this past weekend.

I was in blogger's heaven. Everywhere I looked there were pictures to be taken and ideas to confront or digest — and I really mean digest — like the heritage tomatoes we found at a roadside stand deep in the county. Some were a deep purple colour, others the expected red but streaked with orange bands and still others were neither red nor round; they were green and oblong, like a smooth cucumber.

We picked up a mixed bag of tomatoes and headed back to the cottage where we were staying. Our hosts were a couple of real food nuts — they appreciate the taste of food. Uh, maybe the food nuts are the rest of us, consuming foods, such as the modern tomato, grown more for shipping success than taste.

At dinner that night a platter was prepared presenting our prized finds. A sprinkling of freshly chopped basil and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar adorned the sliced tomatoes. I thought a little ground sea salt would have been nice, too, adding those little, but intense, bursts of salt.

Home, it is time to do a little research discover a little of the background of these little reminders of our food past, of what has been forgotten and of what has been lost, and of what is being rediscovered.

The Covent Garden Market in London, Ontario, like many markets, carries heritage or heirloom tomatoes. But, what is really nice to find are the field grown beefsteak tomatoes — big, juicy, with a nice light acidic bite. These are not the usual, wimpy, rockhard, tasteless, shipping tomatoes out of Florida, California or Mexico.


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