I harvested the first red tomato off our Big Beef plant at least a week ago. A small hole had developed in its skin, and I was afraid that leaving it out to ripen in the elements would mean I’d end up with a rotten tomato.
Because this was the first tomato that I’ve ever grown, I felt it needed elevation to the level of ritual. I’m Catholic, so it’s probably surprising that I didn’t wave incense over it and ring a bell.
Instead, I let it sit on our kitchen windowsill, continuing to ripen, as I kept a close watch for any signs of turning bad. The small hole remained the same size, shape and color, so I figured it was an aberration.
The other factor that held me from turning it into food was that I was paralyzed by the sheer monumentality of the issue. How does one eat one’s first tomato? Pure and simple, sliced and with salt? I knew I didn’t want to throw it into gazpacho or sauce, because I wanted to recognize what I was eating while I ate it. But include it in a Middle Eastern salad? Put it on a sandwich?
Yesterday, though, I took a look at the tomato and determined that, decision or no decision, it was time to eat it. So I reverted to my classic, my favorite standard: caprese salad. It’s not creative, but it is always heavenly.
That being said, I went for exquisite presentation. A lovely plate. Basil from our garden. Really good olive oil and balsamic. I lifted a forkful of basil, mozzerella and tomato (my tomato!) to my mouth and chewed slowly.
It might have been the best tomato I’ve ever eaten. And there are more ripening, and more growing. Party on.