Stacy vs. Her Nemesis: Tomatoes

I have a confession that will get me tossed out of the foodie ranks: I don’t like tomatoes.

I like things made with tomatoes, like pasta sauce and ketchup. I like sun-dried tomatoes. I even like bruschetta. What I can’t stand is actual, raw, squishy and oozy chunks of tomato.

It’s a texture thing, I think. Tomatoes sploosh in a way that sends “yeek spoiled bad don’t eat!” signals off to the reactionary lizard parts of my brain.

Every August, food fiends greet tomato season the way I imagine Evangelicals will react to the return of their own personal Lord and Savior, and every August, I shrug and go back to gathering up the zucchini, eggplant and okra the faithful leave trampled behind in their mad rush toward the splooshy red blobs.

But this August, tomatoes are arriving in my CSA haul, and I can’t avoid them. So I grimly set out to test a theory my friend Amy has long advanced: It’s not that I don’t like tomatoes, it’s that I don’t like bad tomatoes.

Rummaging through the fridge, I came up with some burrata and prosciutto that needed eating stat. I also pulled up CSA kale, an avocado, and the last unpickled survivors of the garlic flowers I got in late July.

Determined to go all out with the tomato experiment, I mixed some of this week’s cherry tomato share into the kale salad I’ve grown addicted to. The first time I made the salad, I followed the recipe I’d found and chopped some supermarket-bought grape tomatoes into the salad. Verdict: YICK. After trying a few bites, I fished them right back out and finished eating the salad sans tomato.

So did it work out better with CSA tomatoes? My grudging verdict: Yes. This batch had a flavor that paired nicely with the avocado. I’d eat them again in the salad.

But the real test was the raw tomato I turned into a cheese-and-prosciutto “salad.” This was my nemesis food in its almost unadulterated, much-loathed sliced-up form. I’ll go to a nice Italian restaurant, order the mozzarella/tomato/basil starter and pick out the tomato slices; that’s how little I care for the things.

This time around they were … edible. Almost, I admit, tasty. I briefly considered slicing up another tomato for seconds before my lizard brain intervened. It pointed out that I’d used up all the burrata.

So do I like CSA tomatoes, or is this just proof that anything at all is delicious when covered with prosciutto and fresh, creamy cheese? I lean toward the latter explanation.

But I suppose I won’t be heartbroken if we get another round of these red splooshy things next week. -Stacy Cowley


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