Actually this time of year is time for many different wonderful and beautiful fresh produce. But my favorites have always been tomatoes. They are beautiful. And so tasty!
We plant some little grape tomatoes that we put in a dish and eat like candy. If bacon is the candy of meat – then grape tomatoes are surely the candy of veggies.
Tomatoes are by far the healthiest of the fruits and vegetables with the power to ward off some of the worst known diseases to man. With the vast variety of tomato products on the market, it really shouldn’t be difficult to get the full health benefit of tomatoes.
Then there is the history of the tomato:
The Tomato History has origins traced back to the early Aztecs around 700 A.D; therefore it is believed that the tomato is native to the Americas. It was not until around the 16th century that Europeans were introduced to this fruit when the early explorers set sail to discover new lands. Throughout Southern Europe, the tomato was quickly accepted into the kitchen, yet as it moved north, more resistance was apparent. The British, for example, admired the tomato for its beauty, but believe that it was poisonous, as its appearance was similar to that of the wolf peach. ”
Most Europeans thought that the tomato was poisonous because of the way plates and flatware were made in the 1500’s.
Rich people in that time used flatware made of pewter, which has a high-lead content. Foods high in acid, like tomatoes, would cause the lead to leech out into the food, resulting in lead poisoning and death. Poor people, who ate off of plates made of wood, did not have that problem, and hence did not have an aversion to tomatoes. This is essentially the reason why tomatoes were only eaten by poor people until the 1800’s, especially Italians.
Ha – something, for once, went right for the poor people. Rich folks were missing a lot. Well not lead poisoning but you know what I mean.
According to what I read some of the best fruits and vegetables to be found in August are:
Of course there are lots of others but this list includes most of the things that I happen to like. Taste and location come into play in what grows best where. There are things that grow here that I don’t care for and so didn’t make my list. Maybe they made yours. But to tell you the truth, I don’t know what the hell to do with a tomatillo. Is that racist?
This time of year is nirvana for salad lovers like me. Everything is fresh, beautiful, plentiful and reasonable. We have a Farmer’s Market that sets up every Friday in the park across the street. Convenient for the things we don’t grow. I can have my delicious salads at a time when the flavors are at their peak.
Especially the Tomatoes, Parsley and the Leaf Lettuce – can’t get much fresher than going to the back yard, picking and bringing in, washing and eating.
Truthfully I don’t get much leaf lettuce, which we plant for the bunnies in the back yard and other lettuce loving critters. But we bought a big bag at the Farmer’s Market yesterday and critters and human both feasted.
I prefer romaine and iceberg so I add them too. I usually buy some good French bread and make my own croutons. This year its just been too darn hot to light the oven. So we either buy some or do with out.
We don’t have the room to grow sweet corn so we buy that too. And it is so good. I think I had a week’s allowance of butter on my sweet corn last night. And it was worth it! I also cooked some extra ears for my special Corn Meal Muffins.
These tasty treats can be made from scratch, which I do when I’m feeling energetic or from a mix when I’m not. I just add about a cup of sweet corn and a cup of shredded cheese to the mix. I love them and they are really good with chili. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
The first farmers markets technically originated in Egypt over 5,000 years ago when farmers along the Nile brought their fresh produce to be sold. Today there are farmers markets all over the world with the smallest ones being no more than 3-4 vendors selling their fresh produce to the largest one in the world in Tokyo, Japan which has over 1,700 stalls!
Can you imagine an ancient Egyptian Farmers Market? Egyptians grew crops such as wheat, barley,vegetables, figs, melons, pomegranates and vines. Reapers cut ripe corn with wooden sickles, edged with sharp flints. Women and children followed behind the reapers to collect any fallen ears of corn.
I confess I’ve been fascinated with Ancient Egypt all my life. But it was more with Pharaohs and Cleopatra and the like. I never just thought about farmers going about their daily lives growing the food that ended up feeding those Queens and Pharaohs.
Okay, this started out as an ode to the tomato and I’ve wandered far afield. (Yes that is a deliberate pun.) What vegetable is your favorite?