Saturday, November 14, 2009

About those roma tomatoes

My husband decided to stop by one of his favorite grocery store "Fortino's" on the way home from work one day in early September.

He noticed two very large trucks in the center of the parking lot and several line-ups of shoppers holding tickets. Asking a passerby what was happening, he was informed this was a real occasion in the local Italian area, the day when the roma tomato delivery arrived and large fifty pound baskets were sold to the public.

All it took was a split second thought, and then guess what he did?

Yes, he got on the bandwagon and joined the line-up, purchased a ticket for ONE basket, only one, most people bought 8 or more. It happened he was the last to participate in this frenzied great deal, the one where a sea of red tomatoes met every person eager to grab their goods and depart as quickly as possible.

When my husband reached the end of the line-up to collect his mighty (too heavy) basket, the woman ahead of him laughed at his "one" ticket. He asked what she bought so many for, and her response was simple - tomato sauce, tomato paste, everything tomato for the winter. She was speaking to him with a very thick Italian accent, and no doubt she heard the whisper of this sale long before.

How my hubby stumbled upon it was a sheer fluke to him, but imagine the surprise when he surprised me with this super heavy sucker back home?

"What on earth are we going to do with all of those", I said

You see our son and his children were arriving the following day. My husband saw wonderful red luscious tomatoes, and I saw WORK with a bad timing. :)

And so, we worked, for a very, very long time together. If you've never worked with freshly picked roma tomatoes, you've not experienced this incredible variety!

The tomatoes were firm and sliced like a dream. And the taste was like nothing I had remembered in a tomato before. Yum! Not acidity as other varieties, none of us ever tired of them with our serendipitous moments of feasting on such fresh garden "Italian farmer" food fair.

My hubby was chief tomato cutter, salsa maker, lime zest shredder and I depleted his bowls, boiled up the goods, scrubbed canning jars and manned the stove.

Cooking and Canning

It was hot outside and we were sweating inside! By days' end, my feet were sore, and I had had my fill of fresh sea of tomatoes still scattered about on the counters.

The next morning we rose early and began our work bee once more, determined to leap over the finish line before the airport shuttle began.

Our end result?
  • Several dozen cans of tomato sauce
  • A large vat of fresh tomato soup
  • A large bowl of fresh homemade salsa with fresh cilantro and lime zest
  • Fresh chopped and served tomato brushetta
  • Freshly sliced tomatoes for our toast
  • Fresh Roma tomatoes for the week ahead
....and one extra large empty basket.

For next year, we both agree we would love to stumble upon more of these baskets, and now that we've worked our way through only fifty pounds, certainly I can foresee managing 8 baskets ourselves for a festive Italian cooking fair, making winter preparations aplenty for our food pantry, with pleasure.