The tomato and me

 

In this complicated world my most complicated relationship is with that most global of South American plants, the tomato. Of course, it’s a berry, but often functions as a vegetable. In much the same way that we have a Prime Minister who functions as a grinning, baseball-capped, mouth-breather.

 

Fresh tomato

No, not an amorous salad ingredient.

 

Here’s the deal: with olive oil drizzled liberally, I love tomato chunks on bruschetta. It’s an indulgence, and perfect entree. However as long as my bum points to the ground, there is absolutely to be no tomato within five leagues of a sandwich (toasted or otherwise) or in a Subway. Again, I implore the various franchisees: six inches is insufficient and twelve is too many. Why not introduce the nine-inch model? Indeed, my mantra when ordering at the New York underground rail shop is to blurt, robot-like, “All the standard ingredients, thanks. Apart from tomato, which in this culinary context, is particularly repulsive and downright evil. Have a nice day, kindly sandwich artist.”

 

Tomato soup

One of life’s utter joys. Serve me up a steaming bucket of it on a winter’s afternoon and I’ll then curl up like a cat by the open fire I trust you’ve unselfishly set ablaze and nap, purring away with a warm belly. From homemade to café to the doubtless horrific tinned-stuff, I’m in. As a thuggish Essex gang member might snarl, “Bring it.”

 

Tomato sauce

As always in this zany life circumstance is king. Now, as some might know that I’m mad for a free park BBQ and especially a well-crisped sausage. And while I can woof these down naked (the sausage, not me as I’ve never tried) meaning without sauce, the one time on this fetching blue planet I can enjoy tomato sauce is on a newly-sizzled snag. It’s just a tremendous nuptial: unhealthy, German-inspired, imitation-meat product, bread and condiment.

 

However, dear reader, my vision of hell isn’t other people or Room 101 or devils and pointy tridents, but the following catastrophe: fried eggs and bacon, murdered by tomato sauce. Why on earth would anyone want to contaminate an impeccably decent fry-up? Placed together in this unholy fashion, every sense is affronted. It tastes awful, looks like a sudden medical emergency, smells unspeakably and I’m confident, is nightmarish to pat. I bet when it sings it even sounds gruesome like Meatloaf at the MCG.

 

Grilled tomato

It must be testament to the powers of ignited gas because I reckon these are also a treat at a BBQ or for breakfast. Cooked in halves is best although I’m quite happy to enjoy a whole one, as the chef desires. I do urge these to not be on the cusp of internally boiling so I might avoid third-degree burns to my mouth and face, and other body parts, for this matter. It can be a lively and fun way to start a Sunday. As the Velvet Underground didn’t sing, “Sunday morning, brings the grilled tomato in.”

 

So there we go. With our long and frequently difficult relationship, we’re probably a bit like Mick and Keef.

 

The tomato and me.

 

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About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello

Comments

  1. Sauce – tick. Grilled – tick. Soup – whatever. But fresh – no tomato in a toastie. Sacrilege. I have live for decades on a ham, cheese and tomato toastie (or two) for lunch. Tomato is my nutritional exculpation in an otherwise salty, peppery, fat and carb laden indulgence.
    You say tomarto I say tomAto.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’ve taken a recent fancy to green tomato pickle.

  3. Hey Mickey (sounds like a hit record to me) – 2 tomatoes sitting on a plate, which one is the cowboy? Neither, they’re both Redskins. Boom Boom

  4. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    PB-my work place has a sandwich press but I’ve so far resisted its significant charms.

    Swish- love me some pickle too. Tanunda has an annual dill pickle festival. Are you in?

    Fisho- Mia Wallace makes a purposely bad tomato joke in Pulp Fiction. Do you know the one?

  5. Nope Mick, don’t know it but if it’s worse than mine it must have been pretty bad. Keep up the good work – i look forward to your next instalment.

  6. “So there’s Papa Tomato, Momma Tomato and Baby Tomato walking along the street. Baby Tomato starts lagging behind, and Papa Tomato starts getting really angry. So, he turns around and squishes Baby Tomato and says, ‘Ketchup.'”

    Hope it was worth the wait, Fisho!

  7. Mickey I am a tomato man re Subway yep tomato sauce on a sausage but never ever on a pie and toasted sandwich wise alongside the plate not in the sandwich thanks,Mickey

  8. Yes, I’m with you Rule book in that I love a pie on a wintry day but always cringe when I’m asked if I’d like sauce with it. No. And the same for a pasty and a sausage roll.

    Almost sounds like you prefer a deconstructed toasted sandwich.

    Thanks for that.

  9. Colin Ritchie says

    Nothing like a freshly picked tomato from your garden!

  10. Agreed Colin. Got a few cherry tomatoes this summer but the local possums demolished our corn again. I think corn is now gorn with no chance of it being reborn. Thanks.

  11. Daryl Schramm says

    Interesting subject and clever last comment Mickey.
    A bacon and egg roll or sandwich is incomplete without tomato sauce.
    The occasional pasty on a plate for lunch with knife and fork at local bakery while reading the paper is always asked for with sauce on the top AND on the side.
    Had a crab salad at an establishment in Seminyak on our first ever trip to Bali late last year. The crab was in short supply but the salad consisted every colour, shape and size of tomato available. Delicious.
    Dad flies into a rage any time a tomato is in close proximity. But he doesnt mind sauce. He reckons there is more pumpkin than tomato in the sauce. That is the source of a lot of fun for us.
    Cheers
    DJS

  12. Jamie (Igor) Simmons says

    Mick, I love what you do and I’ve got your back on the push to introduce the 9 inch Sub…but I’m with Pete on the toastie.
    We just need to sit you down in a room with a toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwich and let you two work this out.

  13. When it comes to toasties, tomato is surely the all-purpose ingredient:
    its versatility knows no bounds

  14. Thanks Jamie and Smokie. Tomato on a toastie would seem to be Australia’s culinary Brexit. Or maybe I’m a bit Trump and his wall on this. Or maybe I need to apply tomato to my toastie, grit my teeth and join the party.

  15. Dave Brown says

    As another mouth breather/leader of ours was wont to say, Mickey, fair suck of the sauce bottle. Tomato sauce is truly the most versatile of condiments although somewhat exempt from this discussion due to the lack of actual tomatoes in a standard supermarket cone shaped squeezie.

    The best tomato is freshly grown and picked ripe, sliced on toast with a gentle sprinkle of salt. Almost all attempts at grilling/cooking end up with part volcanic slop/part inedible and unpalatable flesh. My grandfather always used to complain about “those tomatoes grown in Queensland, it’s like a cricket ball filled with water”.

    Onwards

  16. Thanks Dave. Agree that grilling a tomato requires precision and expert timing. The margin for error is tiny. I reckon your grandfather summarised things very well. Did he ever apply sandpaper to a tomato?

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