I love tomatoes. And the more tomatoes there are to love, the happier my heart. Lucky, then, that I am in the land of the tomato. The land where pizza came into being to showcase the San Marzano. The land where, if you have nothing more than a package of spaghetti and a can of tomato sauce, you’ve got a meal. The land where the reddest of reds is called “rosso pomodoro.” Pomo=ball, d’oro=of gold. Golden ball. You can’t get more precious than that.
So we have many varieties: ciliegie (cherry), datteri (date tomatoes—to die for), San Marzano (oblong), ramati (the garden variety, still on the vine), cuore di bue (beef heart), on and on and on. My favorite is the pomodoro sardo, or the Sardinian tomato. It’s slightly larger than a cherry tomato, but smaller than the normal garden variety. And it runs in color from red to dark green, often streaked as if it couldn’t make up its mind.
These little jewels are tomato-ey, but tart—crisp and juicy, finishing with a mouth-puckering kick. I love them in salads, but anything I find this delicious I prefer to eat practically in its pure state. That is to say, with a drizzle of fine olive oil and a scattering of sea salt.
Today, as I was popping them willy-nilly into my mouth, it dawned on me (being a Southerner) that they would be excellent fried. So I sliced the one remaining tomato, coated its moist cut sides with polenta (corn meal) and fried it quickly in olive oil, until the meal began to turn gold. A generous grating of pepper and a pinch of salt later, I was experiencing the savor of my favorite tomato elevated to an nth degree. The pert tartness was still there, but balanced (or was it challenged?) by a juicy sweetness encased in crunch. Poor me, there I was caught in the crossfire! What was already intense, was more so. I call this bliss.
If you’re ever here, and happen to wander by a fruit and veg vendor, give them a try. You’ll be happy you met them.