Monday, May 3, 2010

A Mayday Tomato Celebration and Confession

Well, Saturday was Mayday 2010. I celebrated but weeding my home garden. May 1st is not only associated with Mayday celebrations in their modern form but it is the ancient Gaelic celebration of Beltane. Beltane is a cross quarter day, that is it marks the transition halfway from Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. This made it the very heart of the growing season for the ancient Celts. The day varied from year to year but May 1st is close enough.

Unfortunately, I think this May 1st marked the very last of our pleasant and cool spring and the beginning of hot humid Summer here in Florida. But that is not the reason for celebration, I would think the heart of growing season is best marked by the very first fresh tomato of the season. On Saturday evening as the bonfires of Beltane were being lit I picked two crisp scarlet grape tomatoes and fed them to Abigail and Millicent. They seemed to enjoy them immensely and the feeling of first harvest was really extraordinary. Sure I have had some salad greens and radishes already but the first tomato seems a serious start to the harvest season here in my tiny homestead.

So that was the celebration of tomatoes as harbingers of the garden season. Probably this would be a good time to make my confession. I grow tomatoes very well; I grow a wide variety and usually get good to excellent results. I have canned them, dried them, sauce and juiced them, I have feed them to worms, chickens, and birds. I have grown them in water, pots and in all kinds of soil. I have grown huge ones, thick Italian one, green one and even some purplish ones – and I have hated every single bite I ever took of any fresh tomato I ever ate.

I cannot help it. I like the taste of tomatoes and will consume them in any way they can be processed. I love ketchup, tomato sauce and paste – heck I even like the taste of tomato juice. But biting directly into a fresh tomato will send chills down my back. The flavor is not the problem – it is the texture. Fresh tomatoes feel exactly like rotten fruit and that is exactly the way I register them every single time I have ever tried to eat one.

Shocking confession and one I regret to make. Tomatoes are such a homestead staple it is a shame to waste them at their peak of flavor. Believe me I have tried, from a tiny boy at my Nanny’s table to a grown man staring down his own fears, I have clinched by jaw and bit into them. Uck - yuck - pooey – I real am sorry but no way. I love the simple life and I’ll keep on growing tomatoes, but I’ll be eating them over pasta or in soups and not fresh from the vine with salt and pepper.


  1. I understand completely. I have never been able to eat raw tomatoes--primarily for the texture. I love them in just about everything, so long as they are at least a little bit cooked. I can't explain it, but that's just the way it is.

  2. Exactly Thom - and trust me I have tried. Normally I can eat any vegetable but nothing can get me to do more than force down a gulp or two of tomato before I dissolve into revulsion.


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