Sunday, October 19, 2008

Heirloom Tomatoes Have Funny Names

A certain friend in medical school had a quote involving (but not really about) heirloom tomatoes as his facebook status and that reminded me that cooking light had a great guide to heirloom tomatoes last month. I didn't realize that they all had different names, which just goes to show I really need to use my brain in a wider variety of circumstances. (There are like a billion varieties of apple, potato, tulip and rose, and each has a different name, but tomatoes? Nah. They're all either "the red kind," "the green kind," "the yellow kind" or grape, cherry, pear or plum shaped.) Not only do they all have different names (duh), but they have crazy hilarious names! Examples? Mr. Stripey! Abraham Lincoln! Morgage Lifter! Yes, these are actual tomato names. Seriously: go check out that guide.

On a related (and probably equally uninteresting) note... Last summer, in line at Fred Meyer, there were two women behind us, one of whom had five or six green zebra tomatoes. The woman behind her comment on how nice they looked and wasn't it nice how you could get so many tomato varieties, even at Fred Meyer these days. The woman with the green tomatoes said, "Oh, it's wonderful. I've wanted to make fried green tomatoes for years, but they never sold green tomatoes before." Here is my understanding: friend green tomatoes are made with the end-of-the-season green tomatoes that won't ripen before the first frost. They're kind of hard and sour, so they're sliced horizontally in rounds, breaded and fried for a late summer treat. I assume it's the hardness that makes it work: can you imagine trying to bread horizonal rounds of a ripe tomato? It seems like all the seeds would fall out and make a mess, and you'd just end up with fried tomato rings. But you know, I've been wrong before.

So I turned around and said, "I'm sorry to butt in, but it was my understanding that fried green tomatoes were made with unripe tomatoes."

The woman replied, "Oh no - my receipe says green tomatoes. Like heirloom."

The woman behind her said, "I always heard unripe too. That's why they're green."

"Well," said the woman with the green tomatoes, "you can do it with either. That's what my recipe says."

And we all left it at that.

Regional cuisine is always tricky when it's not your region. I'm sure that if you're southern, you just know that fried green tomatoes are either heirloom or unripe like northwesterners just know that... um... philberts and hazelnuts are the same thing? ...that hefeweizen is made of wheat? Okay, those are suck comparisons. (Our regional cuisine - which I would sum up as salmon served with spinach ravioli in a hazelnut beurre blanc and a salad of mixed bitter greens, toasted hazelnuts and apple slices dressed in a balsamic vinegrette - is pretty descriptive and relatively straight-forward; we like to tell you in the name of the dish which exact ingredients you will be eating.) But if you look at fried green tomato recipes, they simply don't say "these tomatoes are unripe." And maybe they aren't; maybe I've made the mistake of assuming "green" means "unripe" because I have the horticultural skills of a swarm of locusts.

Okay, now I've wandered far afield of my original point (such as it was) and I don't know how to wrap this up. Pete is watching Telemundo and it is showing commercials for super-sexy telenovelas and "oropordinero.com." This seems like a good way to lose either a lot of money or a lot of gold. It has a little BBB Better Business Bureau logo in the bottom left corner at the end. Or what could be a BBB logo - it's hard to tell because it's so small. I have to say that would just confirm my belief that a BBB designation means nothing. (The movers that shanghai'd our stuff to northern Maryland and stole our vacuum - of all things - were BBB members.)

Sorry this is so rambling. I will leave you with a link to a joke that is terrible on every level. It's not funny, it's badly punctuated and contains a rather obvious factual error that is extremely annoying. Enjoy!

1 comment:

SonicLlama said...

So, a funny thing. You know the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes? For the longest time I thought it was this pulpy, grindhouse-esque horror flick. I knew that it had lesbians, murder, and cannibalism in it, so I just assumed that it would be this slasher-tastic bit of celluloid awash in boobs, blood, and other such titillating goodness.

I was sort of surprised when I actually did see Fried Green Tomatoes to find that the lesbian bits were only implied, and while murder and cannibalism did pop up, it was only a side bit. My hopes were dashed.

Ok, that had nothing to do with your post, but is tangentially related to green tomatoes.