I'm not sure at what point in our dating relationship we were when I figured out that Wayne loves tomatoes but it was early on. I do know, however, that we were just married when I learned he ate them peeled. It's not his fault; his mother and grandmother spoiled all the men in the family by peeling their tomatoes but I'll admit they're really good that way. And those tough skins slip right off when the tomatoes are fresh from the garden and have ripened on the vine.
He doesn't get them peeled much any more. The tomatoes we get around here just aren't the same as good ol' Kansas tomatoes, both in terms of that thicker skin and the real tomato-y taste, and they're rarely left on the vine until they're truly ripe. And he misses them.
One of the things he hoped for when we planned a return trip to Kansas in August was to find some fresh local tomatoes. We rode around the outskirts of town one evening, hoping to find someone with stand in their yard offering up these red gems but alas...no luck.
It was a happy surprise the next day then when I was scanning through the shopper's guide newspaper and saw an ad for a local farmer's market. Even better, it was that very night. Would there be tomatoes?
Yes, there would and a small basket of Kansas tomatoes was soon ours. I wished I could have bought more as it all looked so good but my mouth was salivating at the thought of those tomatoes. We headed straight to the deli department at the grocery store and were soon dining on baloney-cheese-and-tomato sandwiches. It's a once a year indulgence made all the better this year with tomatoes that tasted like the tomatoes from our youth.
But the story doesn't end here. The route home went through Missouri where we spent the night with our friends Tom and Durlene. You probably didn't know that Tom is the best tomato-grower on the planet but he is. I wish I'd thought to take a picture of him next to his garden so you could see the tomato plants that are taller than he is. And they're loaded, both with fruit and with blooms promising more to come. Dinner that night included a huge platter of freshly-picked beauties...peeled, no less! Tom spoils him too, or maybe he spoils Durlene. We ate a lot of good food that night but we devoured those tomatoes.
One of the best things about long-time friends is that they know you as well as you know yourself, and Tom knows Wayne loves tomatoes. He had a stash ready to send home with us. We had to go to the Dollar Store just to buy a container big enough to hold them all. Thanks to Facebook, I was able to snag this picture Durlene posted of us wrapping tomatoes for their journey to Florida.
This is just some of the ones still waiting to be eaten. If you're thinking we'd be tired of them by now having eaten them for lunch and dinner just about every day since we got home, you'd be wrong. With the first bite at every meal we look at one another, roll our eyes and say These are so good! And they are.
Tonight's dinner was our favorite roasted tomato pasta made with the grape tomatoes Tom sent home with us in addition to those in the box. Best. Pasta. Ever. I could eat this pasta dish once a week and be happy but it was even better than usual with homegrown tomatoes. We've learned over time that the dish is better with more tomatoes, more garlic and more basil so be generous with the ingredients if you make it...your stomach will thank you.
And we're pretty much thanking Tom every day for his generous supply of homegrown tomatoes. He probably can't hear us all the way back in Missouri but he might read it here. My 'mater man has a grin from ear to ear these days. Well, when he's not chowing down on fresh tomatoes, that is...peeled or otherwise.