830. Fresh tomatoes

830tomatoes

The sign on the glass window of the roadside fruit and vegetable stall read:

FRESH TOMATOES! PICKED TODAY!

Reece pulled over in his car. There was little tastier than a tomato that had not been in the mass-production cooler. Nothing took the taste away faster than making them cold to keep them fresh.

But the roadside stall was closed. Starlings had entered through a broken back door. Nesting straw, twigs, and waste, were scattered all about. The stall looked like it had been abandoned for a good three or four years; the vendor long gone; the family business crumbled under competition from the mass-producing-cold-store supermarkets. No one wanted to eat food these days that had its taste. Processed vegetables, fruit, even milk, were poor imitations of the real things.

The only fresh-looking item was the old sign on the glass window of the roadside fruit and vegetable stall:

FRESH TOMATOES! PICKED TODAY!

50 thoughts on “830. Fresh tomatoes

  1. Wendy

    I love good tomatoes. I will be getting my garden turned in February for an early March planting. We are in a rainy winter pattern, hopefully we will get a good harvest this year. The last 2 years have been terrible.

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  2. Cynthia Jobin

    I don’t buy tomatoes at this time of year, in New England; they’re practically tasteless. In summertime we have farmers’ markets, and I always grew my own,anyway, even when I lived right in the middle of the city. Then we made Italian tomato sauce for winter storage.

    There are still plenty of ordinary people who think they must store tomatoes in the fridge, and of course the commercial producers have to worry about transportation and storage. They developed a square tomato, so it would pack and ship better! A lot of people were turned off by that.

    Actually, in one of the last years I had a garden, we tried growing a square tomato, just for a lark. There’s a youtube video on the subject: How To Grow A Square Tomato https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnXmOjugwMI

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      😀 – re square tomato! You should grow a tomato in a pot! We have some form of Farmers Market as well – but not as big and exciting as the USA ones – which I loved going to. Here, I suspect, the sellers keep the produce in the fridge between times… Eggs in the fridge is another thing – I keep my home-grown eggs for up to 12 months in a cupboard. The whites don’t beat so fluffy once they’re old, but they’re perfectly usable for everything else. Just rub a little oil on the shell and place in the egg carton.

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      1. Cynthia Jobin

        There’s a type of tomato that grows well in a pot. Around here it’s called a “Patio Tomato,” and is a bit stockier —less leggy—than the ones we grew inn the garden. That’s a great tip on the eggs. My grandmother never used to refrigerate eggs, now that I recall. Speaking of eggs, I am making a kind of ice cream today called “Voluptuous Vanilla” that requires 6 eggs. (Long story short: my sister insists on giving me unnecessary material objects for birthday and christmas and recently gifted me with a small ice cream maker and a recipe book for a million flavors. Fortunately it only makes a small amount at one time.)

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        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          An ice cream maker would be fun! Although I’m not sure of the wisdom of making ice cream in Maine in winter. Speaking of which – there’s a heavy snow warning for Maine in France, and Eric wants to know how Maine in USA got its name?

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          1. Cynthia Jobin

            But this is Voluptuous Vanilla! For Eric:
            There is no definitive explanation for the origin of the name ‘Maine’. The state legislature in 2001 adopted a resolution establishing Franco-American Day, which stated that the state was named after the former French province of Maine. Other theories mention earlier places with similar names, or claim it is a nautical reference to the mainland. The first known record of the name appears in an Aug. 10, 1622 land charter to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason, English Royal Navy veterans, who were granted a large tract in present-day Maine that Mason and Gorges “intend to name The Province of Maine.” Mason had served in Royal Navy in the Orkney Islands where the chief island was called Mainland, a more likely name derivation for these English sailors than the French province. A year later, in 1623, the English naval captain Christopher Levett, exploring the New England coast, wrote: “The first place I set my foote upon in New England was the Isle of Shoulds, being Islands in the sea, above two Leagues from the Mayne.” Whatever the origin, the name was fixed in 1665 when the King’s Commissioners ordered that the “Province of Maine” be entered from then on in official records.

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  3. thecontentedcrafter

    That story is sad and true. I am so fortunate to have one of the best farmers markets in the country close by. I can get seasonal produce fresh from the organic growers. Last year the market had dozens of stalls. This year the growing has not been so good and the numbers are down and there is less variety so I try the organic shop where supplies are very expensive. Avocados have sat at over $2 each since before Christmas!!

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  4. Rob McShane

    So true Bruce! We’ve had our own urban self-sustaining farming going in our garden for almost 3 years – wiped out by the extreme heat and strong sun this year! No veg shops anymore so big business has us in their grip – only until we get the next crop going though! Many friends running their own veg gardens too. We will not be beaten! 🙂

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      1. Rob McShane

        Yes, it’s important for the soil to vary the crop. Due to the heat and water, we increased our containers which has helped – have put them into dappled shade as well. Strange Shallots grow for you yet no onions. We often find things change from season to season – last year loads of runner beans, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, baby marrows and spring onions, this year only sweet potatoes and spinach! Sun frazzled the rest! 😦

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        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          I’m having a terrible spring/summer. Lettuces bolted. Celery bolted. Turnips bolted. Spinach bolted. Beans rotted in the wet. Artichokes died because the landlord arrived and sprayed the fence for moss and spray went everywhere…

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          1. Rob McShane

            The worst feeling to watch the demise of self planted/seeded and highly anticipated food plants! Commiserations, Bruce!
            Maybe tie the blessed stuff down to prevent the bolting (🙇😆) and hopefully the next round will fare better and the landlord will leave you be – producing better fare! 🙂

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  5. Susanne

    I like the smell of a tomato stem. Asparagus in Canada is going for $9.99 a bunch (a handful) today. Cauliflower was the same price a few days ago. There’s a joke going around that a couple went to the bank to ask for a loan so they could buy a vegetable. That’s what corporate farming does.

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  6. arlingwoman

    Interesting comments on food prices. That asparagus is pretty high, but it IS out of season. Still… Now, I have to say that I was thinking, when I realized the stand was deserted, that there would be volunteer tomato plants, loaded with tomatoes that your character would discover. It’s POSSIBLE, Bruce. I get volunteer tomatoes every year in the garden…

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  7. MPHIX

    Tomatoes are exciting fruit to grow. In fact I very much enjoyed growing a fair amount of the solenaceae family back when I had a garden, even the less desired specimens like Wooded Nightshade that would grow wild from time to time, (bit of a problem as these look identical to the common spud plant).
    By far my favourite vegetable to grow was the fennel, mostly because they were deemed to be challenging. I like a challenge.
    It’s true though, that nothing tastes better than home grown produce. There is a certain amount of pride and love that makes it taste better too; knowing that you hand reared all these little beauties from seed.
    I hope your tomatoes set in and you have a good crop this year. The weather is a bit of a bugger. It’s heartbreaking when all your good efforts go to waste some years.

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Gosh – fennel here is to be planted, used and pull out as fast as possible, else it self-seeds and causes a plague! (I think here it’s classified as a noxious weed!) The nightshade here also grows as a weed – along with its Deadly cousin – but although kids sometimes eat them, they’re not commonly devoured! I like to grow things best that are hard to find in the shops and are a little odd these days: Jerusalem artichokes and Yucon for example.

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      1. MPHIX

        I’m with you on the unusual veg. Jerusalem artichokes I grew, and waited most patiently for their flowering. Four years later I saw them flower, but by then the garden was no longer mine. The were spectacular plants though!

        I never let my fennels go to seed, they never lasted that long. 🙂

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