you say tomato, i say gimme some more where that came from.

i’ve had my fair share of heirloom tomatoes in the states, but few really rival in flavor, texture and juice the more conventional varieties one finds readily in italy. and of course, the common varieties here are often regarded as heirloom varieties in the US — cuore di bue (ox-heart), for example. wonderfully fleshy — indeed, more flesh than seeds or guts, and with an intense flavor that hardly ever ventures into overly acidic or boringly insipid territory (as so many american salad tomatoes are). they have a gnarly, almost shar-pei-like appearance. (photos tomorrow perhaps.) this a tomato with substance. one that can hold up as lunch all on its own (sliced and doused in olive oil, some ripped-up basil, a little maldon sea salt and black pepper) and with a fresh ball of mozzarella di bufala.

but then, on a trip through southern italy, i discovered pachino tomatoes, cherry tomatoes that originate from a town of the same name in sicily. none of the sweet 100s or little golden pear cherry tomatoes that i’ve ever had can compare to these. they have sharp little nubbins on the ends opposite their stems and are perfectly balanced between sweet and tart. and the taste, like so much of the produce in italy, is fundamental — like the best tomatoes you’ve ever put in your mouth. and luckily, i’m not such a purist that i would refuse to buy them in piedmont markets:

pachinos also have pretty substantial skins — not leathery like those of piennolos (the variety grown in campania that grow in hanging clusters like grapes and can last all winter long — by virtue of those skins), but not papery either like the usual cherry tomato. these are chewy skins. chewy in a good way. and the little sharp ends don’t really pose any danger to your internal organs (though they are pointy little things!). these are pretty heavy, as far as tomatoes go too.

another recent tomato discovery: in italy, they have canned cherry tomatoes. sure, san marzanos are the best of your jarred varieties, but the truly magnificent ones are impossible to get even within italy (the pale imitations on shelves both here and in the US, however, are still way better than the canned round ones). and while i wait to get my hands on some, the cherries will do the trick. their sweetness withstands the can and they don’t tend to take on that cooked or sort of shelved taste that you sometimes find in canned tomatoes. photo of that later as well.


1 Response to “111693901972072689”

  1. 1 foo May 24, 2005 at 12:27 pm

    I was thinking the other night how I can’t wait for tomato season to roll around at the farm again.. Last year I got a couple baskets of mixed cherry-type tomatoes that were absolutely stunning.

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