"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

How to eat a tomato

by Julie on June 12, 2011

in Green Goddess, Vegetarian

Golden tomatoes from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

They're coming for you...

I had exactly six dollars. All Wendy had was a hundred dollar bill.

We asked several vendors at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market if they could change it for us. Most shook their heads and gave us queer looks. Several laughed at us.

So when we got to the booth where the tomatoes sat in a box soaking up the sun, I shot my wad and bought two of the biggest, best smelling, most pliant we could find, along with a bunch of basil with the largest leaves I’ve ever seen. Each one was the size of a Kleenex.

“Monster basil,” said Wendy.

“Monsanto basil, more like,” I said.

No, said the farmer. It’s organic. It’s just big.

And until we could find someone who could change a $100 bill, that was all we could afford for lunch.

We asked the farmer to cut each tomato into quarters, and we wandered until we found a shady spot where a booth should of been, but wasn’t. Thusly tucked away, we wrapped each piece of tomato in a basil leaf and ate them like that, leaning over so the juice didn’t run down our arms, which it did anyway.

Bliss. Perfect happiness. We closed our eyes and tasted the tang and green of the basil. That slightly sour sweetness of ripe tomato. We closed our eyes and ate our first tomato of summer.

We wiped our mouths with the back of our hands. Passers-by nodded and smiled their approval. That’s why I love me a farmer’s market. Nobody begrudges you a little tomato juice on your sleeve.

I vowed it was the only way to eat a tomato.

tomato on toasted olive bread with feta

The other way to eat tomatoes

A few weeks later, I remembered another way. Almost as simple, just as perfect.

Buy olive bread. Slice it. Toast it.

Place two fresh slices of tomato on top just so.  Crumble feta cheese over it.

You can add sea salt — just the slightest pinch — if you want to. But that’s really going over the top if you ask me.

Again, perfection.

Even the nits eat this. Even the Drama Teen’s friends eat this.

Can you taste it? Summer’s here.

What’s your favorite way to eat a tomato? Really. I want to know.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikki Britain June 12, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Big chunks of tomato, cubed buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil leaves tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and just a smidgen of garlic salt. My kids call it “Italian Salad” and usually ask for second helpings. Thank you for the reminder of how summer should taste!


Jen June 13, 2011 at 8:39 am

Love this – I could taste the tomato! Can’t wait to have my first one of the summer…


Jamie June 13, 2011 at 9:13 am

Haphazardly cut up tomatos, nectarines, and smoked mozarella tossed w/ chiffonaded basil, and equal portions of fig vinegar and olive oil. Salt & pepper to taste.


Julie June 13, 2011 at 9:18 am

“chiffonaded” basil? Whaaaa???


jen June 13, 2011 at 10:32 pm

On top of a warm veggie/potato skillet (I like the tomatoes cold though) – best breaky ever! I am the only one in my family who would eat this though. It could be so much more fun if everyone would “Yum!” with me.


Liz Haynes June 15, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Loved this story. Reminded me of the children’t book First Tomato by Rosemary Wells. Lovely. I like to chop up tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, kosher salt, then, get ready for it… cubed firm tofu. My version of a caprese salad, but less fat than mozzarella. I know it sounds strange, but it’s pretty good. If I add some whole grain pasta I call it dinner!


Julie June 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Thanks Liz! I LOVE First Tomato by Rosemary Wells. It’s one of my favorite kids’ books, and actually always brings a tear to my eye, it’s so touching. (shhh! Don’t tell anyone I’m that sappy sometimes…). Hmmm…maybe I should do a roundup of favorite children’s books featuring food…got any faves?


alice July 4, 2011 at 9:02 am

Oh man, I spent one summer when I was 12 reading and re-reading Farmer Boy because of the food. After eating a full plate of goodies, Alfonso would always sigh and somehow make room for three types of pie.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: