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September 2011


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Aug. 1st, 2008

poetry friday

friday feast: rhapsody in tomato

"A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins."  ~ Laurie Colwin

                       "Ripe Tomatoes" by Robert Duncan, oil on canvas.

Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes
There's only two things that money can't buy
That's true love and homegrown tomatoes.

I can't get this Guy Clark song out of my head. And ain't it the gosh darn truth?

There's nothing that says summer like homegrown tomatoes. Sure wish we had some.

Oh, we had buckets of them when we lived at our old house. Len had a nice sized vegetable garden, and almost every weekend during the summer, he'd go out and pick a few ruby red beefsteak beauties. He'd slice into one of those sun-warm, smooth, shiny globes to reveal chambers harboring gelatinous seeds. Then he'd let me have first pick of the slices for my sandwich -- sometimes just lightly toasted bread, mayo, a bed of thin cucumber and tomato slices, or if I was feeling the slightest bit frisky, I'd throw caution to the wind and grind on a BLT.

Ah, the rapture!


Now that we live in the woods, we don't get enough sun for a garden. Though we buy from roadside stands or farm markets, it's never quite the same as tomatoes freshly picked, minutes old, grown in your own patch of dirt. I don't think there's any other fruit? vegetable? fruit? whose taste and quality varies so greatly between the supermarket and homegrown versions.

A homegrown tomato, or as close as you can get to homegrown, is, dare I say it -- pure poetry.

Just listen to these names -- Purple Haze, Marmande, Juliet, San Marzano, Box Car Willie, Aunt Ruby's German Green. There's even Moneymaker and Mortgage Lifter.

Somewhere, almost everywhere in the world, there is a tomato for all seasons, sensibilities, climates, and culinary uses, to satisfy the most discerning of palates. Without the tomato, there would be no salsa, no Bloody Marys, no barbecue sauce, no ketchup, no gazpacho, no sauce, paste, or puree for pasta. It would mean the demise of Italian cuisine (kill me, already)! Worst of all, I shudder to think, can barely dare to say it, there would be no tomato soup (voted as the writer's favorite in my highly scientific poll). 

*Cue in gratuitious gasping and weeping*

Oh, where, on God's green earth, would I float my alphabets?

Precious pomodoro, forgive us our barbaric finger-pointing, and accept this small yet luminous token of our undying adoration. He is a poet from Chile, born on the continent of your origin.

by Pablo Neruda

The street
filled with tomatoes
light is 
its juice
through the streets.

(Rest is here.)

If you wish to make amends and share your tomato love, check out the East Nashville Art Fest. They are sponsoring a Tomato Haiku Competition (deadline is Monday, August 4th). You are allowed to enter up to 5 haiku, so sip some sauce this weekend and start slicing up those metaphors.

See the world's largest tomato here.

Beautiful examples of tomato art here from the Carmel TomatoFest (scroll down).

To hear the song, "Homegrown Tomatoes," performed by two uber homegrown guitar pickin' scruffy singers, click here.

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Well Read Child.

             "The tomato: a uniter, not a divider -- bringing together
               fruits and vegetables."