Friday, May 02, 2008

T is for Tomato Tasting - Pan con Tomate

I read a comment by someone who said that tomatoes have the texture of the inside of an eyeball. Freddie shares this dislike for the texture of tomatoes. So following on from the success of our League of Lettuce I thought that we needed a similar tasting challenge with tomatoes. And late last summer Amanda, who blogs at Figs,Bay,Wine, came to our rescue.
She told us about Spanish Tomato Toast or Pan Con Tomate which is a traditional and very simple Catalan dish. Up until that time, Freddie would not eat raw tomatoes, only consuming them puréed in tomato soups or pasta sauces.
We went at the height of the tomato season to the supermarket. I thought I knew that tomatoes were red, unless of course they were unripe in which case they are green. But the tomatoes were competing with the lettuces in the variety stakes. Next to the conventional red ones were crates of yellow, purple, black and green tomatoes. And they boasted their own sign: ‘Heirloom Tomatoes'. Now when I think of heirlooms I imagine grandfather clocks or boxes of old photographs. But these jewels of the tomato world have exquisite names: the glamorous Eva Purple Ball, the exotic Green and Red Zebras, the esoteric Dr Wyche’s Yellow and the voluptuous French Marmande. It was a cast of tomatoes that boast good old-fashioned breeding. I politely invited them home to take part in a tomato tasting session.

And as we learnt, Pan Con Tomate has a great trick up its sleeve: it allows children to take charge of the meal. You simply give them huge tranches of toasted country bread, a little dish of olive oil, halved cloves of garlic, a little sea-salt and a selection of ripe tomatoes cut in half. Freddie and Alexandra squeezed, squelched and drizzled their way through plates of well-bred tomatoes. Freddie was creative with his scoring. “Its 10 out of 10 as a way of getting people interested in eating raw tomatoes and about 7 out of 10 for taste.” He didn't mention eyeballs at all!

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  1. funny, I'd never thought of tomatoes as eyeballs before. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to think otherwise from now on :)

  2. Gosh - I've never seen such colourful tomatoes for sale in London besides Borough Market. Pan con tomate is great, such fresh flavours, but it's such a shame most of the supermarket tomatoes we get are watery and insipid.

  3. Catofstripes.
    I know - It also made me stop and think. There is something accurate about that description!

    Lizzie - I bought those tomatoes at two shops and a market - Waitrose and Whole Foods and Portobello Road Market. They were delicious - but that was when they were in season which is the best time as they actually taste like they should - sweet and delicious

  4. This is a very creative way to make kids eat tomatoes. Your blog and pictures always put me in a very good mood :)

  5. I just love heirloom tomatoes! You're so lucky to have gotten your hands on them :)

  6. Seeing your recipe for this is great. My grandpa lives in Mallorca and we would often have Pa amb oli - olive oil drizzled bread rubbed with tomato and garlic. I am sure the same dish as yours. What an incentive to eat off of those lovely Terence Conran Salad Ware plates too. x

  7. So are you going to wait until peak tomato season to delve deeper into T is for Tomato?

  8. Great Big Veg8:56 AM

    Swirling notions
    No we arent waiting - but I know the tomatoes I am buying this week are notihng like as lovely as the ones we got at the right time in the summer. Still - we made tomato risotto last night with some cherry tomatoes which went down ok with Freddie - not his favourite thing - but he ate it without any complaint!
    The trouble with eating through the alphabet is that sometimes we have hit the absolute right time when it is in season and at other moments its only going to be food that has been flown in - not so great!

  9. Bread rubbed with garlic and fresh tomatoes sounds really simple and good!

  10. Kevin - It is good - and as you said really simple. Which suits me because I am often feeling pretty lazy!


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