Tuesday, October 22

Katz Festival: I Say Tomatoes

by Miriam Rubin

Tomato wasn't one of my first words. 

My sister's first word was chocolate, but I imagine I said "tomato" fairly soon after I began appreciating food. 

It was love at first bite. 

Aptly, another name for tomatoes is Love Apples.

Heirlooms weren't yet a concept when I was a child, but even then, I craved only full-flavored tomatoes. In season, sun-ripened, firm-textured. 

A favorite summer lunch was a version of the classic Southern tomato sandwich. My way: toasted challah, Hellmann's, sliced olives and juicy, ripe tomatoes. 

These days, in my garden in southwestern Pennsylvania, I grow many vegetables, but tomatoes are my passion. 

This year, I grew 22 different varieties. They're what I wait for. Why I wrote my book. 

I'm thrilled to be meeting with you to talk about tomatoes. The JCC Cooking Committee is preparing scrumptious tomato dishes for sampling: Matbucha, Edna Lewis' Baked Tomatoes with Crusty Bread and Spiced Green Tomato Crumb Cake. As part of my presentation, I'll prepare Ginger Tomatoes.

Tomato season is well past. With sadness, I pulled up the last plants weeks ago. Cooler temps approach, light snow and killing frost threaten, but now it's bright and sunny. 

I've harvested all the lettuce, some chard and the last of the cilantro. My garden is ending, but it couldn't be a prettier time to appreciate what's still there.

Some of summer is preserved in jars. But mostly, the tomatoes I'm cooking with are canned. There's next season to ponder, garlic to plant in a couple weeks. Gardeners always look forward.

Thanks for inviting me to Indianapolis. I look forward to sharing tomato love and lore on November 3 as part of the Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts.

Guest blogger Miriam Rubin is the author of Tomatoes: A Savor the South Cookbook and is set to appear as a featured speaker at the 15th annual Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts.  

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