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.
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.”
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 principally thuggish Essex gang member might snarl, “Bring it.”
As always in this zany life circumstance is king. Now, members of my small and disturbed audience 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.
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.