For a tomato ranchin' bum who can't stop talking about the things, I've surprised myself by discovering I don't crave them now.
We have bags and bags of frozen, roasted tomato sauce, and we've barely made a dent in them.
Even though my cherry tomatoes were still ripening on the patio as late as January 1, I had already begun to lose my lust for them.
Today I had a bagel with cream cheese and Nova. Now, I'm not even going to begin to complain about the quality of the bagel, because in Northern California, my expectations in that department have been dashed permanently. Like an abused dog, I've come to believe I deserve
The salmon was good, though, and the cheese and paper-thin red onion just right. But why on earth were there slices of tomato on that thing? The tomato was your typical pale-orange, watery, odd-textured Out Of Season variety, with a special twist: It tasted simply terrible. One bite, and I yanked all the rest of the slices out of the bagel. The flavor was like bug spray: chemical-y, sickly, frightening.
Without hammering on the poor counterman who assembles the bagels, or the store manager, or even the owners of the bagel chain that this outfit is a part of, I will make one assumption: People expect a fresh tomato in certain preparations, no matter what the calendar says. They will ignore all physical sensations of revulsion while devouring it. Because they want it.
There are better and there are worse representatives of out-of-season tomatoes. The bite I had today was surely the worst.
The better representatives are probably imported from the Southern Hemisphere, or else hothouse-grown.
Last year I enjoyed some early-summer hothouse tomatoes, grown locally. They were good. It was almost real tomato-harvesting time, so it didn't seem weird to be appreciating an incubator-bred cousin of the real thing.
Right now, though, mid-February, I just don't feel the need to satisfy a craving for a fresh tomato. The craving is not there.
But. Damn! That crappy tomato stirred something deep inside me. It made me twitchy for the return of spring and summer foods. Asparagus is already in the markets, as well as new onions. I'm beginning to dream up spring egg dishes, made with young cheese.
Tonight, however, the temperature is expected to go down to freezing. And I have half a carton of cream in the fridge. Add that to a bag or two of frozen tomato sauce... Gosh, I guess a whole week of cheese-sandwich-blogging put a little bug in my ear: I want tomato soup!