I feel like confessing something. As the season’s tomato worship reaches its inevitable fever pitch, it’s outmatched by the competing chorus ringing in my head. My feelings about tomatoes are…conflicted. I’m no Amy Sullivan, a tomato hater. I know that when they are good, there is nothing better and they need nothing but a little salt and pepper. I love cooked tomatoes, and the canned variety are a staple in my kitchen.
Sullivan complained in her anti-tomato piece at The Atlantic that many sliced tomatoes are “slimy” or “bland.” I wish a lack of taste was all I could fault them. As a supertaster, it has long been my curse to taste a secondary flavor of decay in any cut tomato left waiting more than a few minutes.
People go crazy for the heirlooms at the farmers market. The giant fruits sit cooking in the sun. If you buy them, use them immediately–a day on the counter and you won’t have to be a supersmeller to know you’ve missed your window. The skins of the perfect-looking cherry tomatoes lolling in the heat mask the chemical processes within. I bite one and it has literally gone hard, like a surprise cocktail at a Jose Andres restaurant.
Sometimes I wish there was a support group for this affliction. I’ve never met anyone who agreed that it’s a race against the clock to eat tomatoes before they taste like compost. And I may even lose some credibility with this admission, but with last weekend’s farmers market regrets fresh in my mind and an eye to the Washington Post‘s tomato recipe competition results coming next week, I just felt like getting it off my chest.