Wednesday, August 5, 2015

If it's not from Jersey, it's not a tomato

I have always hated tomatoes. My poor mother constantly tried to get me to eat them when I was growing up. She would cut them into cute shapes or tiny little cubes in hopes I might at least try them. But there was no way, no how anything tomato was going in my mouth.  At this point in my story, my friends usually point out how much I love Italian food and that Italian food is based on anything and everything tomato. Again, I need to remind you, this is a Logic Free Zone. Please refrain from using well thought out concepts and arguments in here.  Just jump on the crazy train with me. If you're good, I might even let you blow the horn.

My new neighbors, Pat and Tom, brought over a caramel walnut apple pie the other week as a "Welcome to the Neighborhood" gift. It was crunchy, flaky, not too sweet - all the things that identify a pie as a first class dessert. Pat told me she had gotten it at the local farm stand of the Russo family down the road. Here's a little tidbit about me. If you can make a pie like this, you get an automatic admission to my cell phone contact list. I might even put you in my Fave Five.

To say Russo's is a farm stand is a lot like saying Texas can get warm in the summer - a bit of an understatement. It has home decor, a bakery, garden supplies and cute things like this:

It also has flowers that make me want to put on a Victory Garden t-shirt and go compost something.

 I was admiring these beauties when a young man came up to me and asked me if I needed any help. 

                            Me: " Hiya! Where do you keep all your petunias?" 
                            Him: "Well, we have a few over here." 
                            Me: "That's all you have? Honestly? Only the purple ones?"
                            Him: "Yeah, I think that's about it."
                            Me: "Hmmm, that's a bummer. I really need petunias."
                            Him: "Uhm, can I ask why?"
                            Me: "Because they're the only flower that can handle a lot of heat."
                            Him: "Ma'am, how much heat are you expecting here in Shamong?"

Apparently, Shamong doesn't need the same solar scorch resistant flowers as we do in Texas. Turns out you can plant  impatiens with wild abandon and not worry about their survival. Who-da thunk it?

Back to the produce. Each table had something that made you want to stop and admire it.  You could actually smell the peaches, the tomatoes and the blueberries as you walked up and down the aisles of the stand. It was a bit like Bath & Body Works but without the headache. Look at these baskets of peaches. We brought home more than a few of these chickadees.

The big kiddos used a complicated algorithm to pick out the best ears of corn. It boiled down to this: grab the ear in front of you. You just could not go wrong with this produce, it was that fantastic.

I put Colleen in charge of picking out the perfect tomatoes to buy. I have no qualms delegating tasks when I know I'm in over my head. She narrowed it down to this baby and two more. And here's the funny thing. As I was cutting them up for dinner, I actually popped a piece in my mouth. Willingly tried a bite. I ended up eating the entire tomato standing there at the counter. It was soooo good. I racked my brain to come up with an explanation and this was all I could come up with-I don't think I ever actually tried a tomato growing up. Clearly, if you aren't from Jersey, you ain't a tomato.

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