Many of the responses to the blog entry I posted last week about the season's first tomato concerned your own tomato memories and they were so lyric I'm thinking that if one doesn't already exist, there should definitely be an anthology of writing devoted to the tomato. The writing would include memoir, of course, but also poetry and fiction on subjects ranging from ketchup to a primer on how to make the perfect Bloody Mary. I'm thinking there must be something to this memory thing and tomatoes because as soon as I typed "ketchup," I flashed on those little foil packets of ketchup that a certain fast food restaurant used to ration in case we wanted to use them to fight "ketchup wars" rather than on our Quarter Pounders. Ketchup wars involved surreptitiously snipping the top off a packet of ketchup and hiding it under a napkin and when the moment was right, slamming it with your fist so that the contents splurted (in a perfect war) all over your "enemy's" shirt or, better yet, face. Once splurted, they were out of the game, though the game usually ended as soon as the manager got wind of what we were doing.
Also, I marveled at the stories about how many people ate fresh tomatoes as children probably because I refused to eat a fresh tomato until I was in college and then it was a pink, flabby wintertime tomato that I hated, and rightfully so. I did eat Campbell's tomato soup but made with milk not water and always with a grilled cheese sandwich. This was typically the lunch my mom made on Friday when I was in elementary school and I remember looking out at the backyard, at the snow that had drifted up against the window thinking when I woke up tomorrow it would be Saturday.
Here's a recipe for a more upscale, suitable-for-summer version of tomato soup, a cross between gazpacho and a smoothie. It's from the New York Times, but I modified it a tad. I made it with some tomatoes I bought at the Public Market and now I can't wait to make it with tomatoes from the Fire Escape Farm:
2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and roughly chopped
12 ounces plain sheep’s-milk or regular yogurt (I used Greek = excellent!)
1/4 cup F. Oliver's Heady Garlic EVOO
12 basil leaves, roughly chopped, more for serving
2 scallions (white and light green parts), roughly chopped
2 ice cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Place tomatoes, yogurt, olive oil, basil, scallions, ice cubes, salt, vinegar, and black pepper in a blender. Purée until smooth. Taste and add more salt and vinegar, if necessary. Pour into small bowls and garnish with chopped basil. Drizzle soup liberally with olive oil. Enjoy.
Yield: 4 servings.
Also: Tune in next week when I attempt "Sarah's Fire Escape Salsa" (with apologies to Rick Bayless' "Rooftop Garden Salsa").