Tomatoes speak summer. We enjoy the ‘love apple’ in a variety of ways…

fresh off the vine with juice dripping off elbows, quartered on a plate with salt and pepper handy, sliced on a sandwich chowed down quickly before the bread gets soggy, or in salsas and hors d’oeuvres.

They are tasty either cool from the fridge or warm from the garden or window sill, whetting our appetites for more. We enjoy the juicy fruit in a salad, complementing a cold-cut sandwich, or as the major ingredient in a tomato/mayo sandwich that is all the rave among some. I haven’t tried that yet since to me it sounds like it would be a wimpy sandwich. 

The tomato has been around a long time, but America is among some of the last countries to accept them as food fit for humans. When we did finally accept it, it was due to European influence rather than from its countries of origin – Central and South America. Even the Europeans took a while to embrace it as edible, since it appeared that nobility died from its consumption. In retrospect we know they died from lead poisoning, since tomatoes were often served on pewter plates high in lead content quite reactive to the acidic tomato.

Before Americans decided to eat them, the colonists used them for decoration. I would bet the invention of pizza coincides with the appearance of tomatoes in American gardens and markets. If one is so inclined to read the history of a food item, the fact that tomatoes were used in ketchup before they were used in salad will eventually surface. 

Leave it up to the government to complicate the fruit/vegetable debate. No one can deny the tomato is a fruit, but the US Supreme Court clarified in the 1890’s that Americans used it as a veggie so it was subject to that tariff.

The next time you bite into a ripe juicy tomato or enjoy a dish prepared with tomato-based products, ponder the fact that the tomato is really a berry. It is also a perennial! Does that mean those with green thumbs might be able to enjoy home-grown vine-ripened tomatoes year round? Or does that mean…since it is a berry… I can get tomatoes off the same plant two summers in a row? 

Let me know how that works for you. I can’t seem to get ONE plant to bear an edible berry during a single summer. My tomato treats are much-appreciated gifts or purchased from yard gardens and farmers’ markets. Thank goodness there are many around here who grow and harvest this delectable berry with such skill!

About Teresa Pearson Lee

Retired after 33 years of teaching English and French (one year in private school in Memphis, TN and the rest in public school in Doniphan, MO. Enjoying new adventures - all those things I put off for lack of time, energy, now I can try them! Pottery, writing, traveling, camping, kayaking, dancing, listening to some of the best live music ever, and making lively new friendships. All christened with an appreciation for great red wine! Created and operated KC's on the Current, then sold it and managed it for new owners. You might still find me at the reservation desk when spring rolls around. Born and raised in St. Louis, MO near The Hill. Though a transplant to Southeast Missouri, still a city gal at the core with a deep love of the natural resources in these Ozark foothills. Currently I am a content coordinator for Poplar Bluff Living Magazine and a columnist/stringer for the local weekly The Prospect News. My rescue Siamese helps with most of the proofreading; he has a great ear. I relish the solitude easily had in the Mark Twain Forest but thoroughly enjoy lively outings for music, wine, conversation close to home or in my beloved hometown. Technology is my greatest challenge but so worth the shared connections. There may be a need for solitude but there is little loneliness. The material in this blog written by Teresa Lee is her property and cannot be used without express written consent to do so.
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