Referred to as pommes d'amour, or love apples, by the French due to their supposed power as aphrodisiacs, the tomato is an irresistible summertime indulgence that I look forward to every year. As the dog days of summer come to an end, I quietly mourn the end of fresh tomato season.
Every Saturday during the summer, I select the best-looking tomatoes from the local farmer's market. Eventually, I get so many tomatoes that I wonder if my husband and I will be able to eat them all. Usually my fears are unfounded. Most days I slice a whole tomato and combine it with sharp white cheddar cheese, a few sprigs of basil and a little mayo between a couple of slices of fresh ciabbata bread.
Tomatoes as a side dish during the summer months is a family tradition that has carried on from my great-grandmother. With just a dash of salt and maybe a little pepper to enhance the flavor, the best tomatoes are the ones freshly picked and still warm from the sunshine. Our classic summer dinner menu consists of fried okra, sautéed squash, corn on the cob, black-eyed peas, cornbread and oh, please pass those sliced tomatoes.
Even though the French called them love "apples," eating a tomato like an apple is something I've never been able to get my hands around … quite literally. I've only known a few folks who can master the task, sprinkling a little pepper and salt with each bite. It appears a little bit selfish to me as they bite away, not even sharing their delicious tomato.
Although I'll miss the easy access to fresh summertime tomatoes, I know that just around the corner is the savory aroma of soups and stews. Fortunately, my grandmother still cans anything and everything so there are bound to be some canned tomatoes that I will be begging for during cooler months. During the Y2K scare, my grandmother and her church ladies went on a canning craze—they were terrified that there wouldn't be any food available out in rural Mississippi. Needless to say, there are still a lot of jars labeled "1999," so I have to be careful which crop of jarred tomatoes I select.
But, before I reluctantly give up my fresh tomatoes, there are still a few more sandwiches to enjoy. Try this tasty tomato treat for a great appetizer.