Last Sunday, Nancy and Mark Mazur had a tasting of 14 varieties of tomatoes they grow in the Irvington community garden. My friend Renee Shamosh sent me this beautiful photograph of some of the tomatoes, labeled.
The tomatoes that were displayed and tasted were: Gold Medal (U.S. Heirloom), Millie (IT Heirloom-mystery), Mikado (U.S. hybrid), Striped Roman (Italian heirloom), Brandywine (U.S. heirloom), Mortgage Lifter (U.S. heirloom), English Princess (U.K. hybrid), Maude’s Early (U.S. heirloom), Cuore di Bue (Italian heirloom), Golden San Marzano (Italian hybrid), Chianti Rose (Italian heirloom), Principe Borghese Italian heirloom), Orange Paruche U.S. hybrid), Black Ethiopian (Ukrainian heirloom). Wow.
What to do with them? Millions of things. But… one of my fondest childhood food memories is Mom’s Tomato Salad. Quite simply, it’s a platter of sliced tomatoes dressed with oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, and plenty of chopped parsley. My Hungarian-born, Vienna-raised, California-transplanted mother did not grow Italian heirlooms or shop in a farmers’ market. She did not use extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, or Italian parsley. Her tomatoes were from the supermarket (but it was California in the summertime, and they were good). The oil was Wesson, the vinegar was white Heinz, the pepper was McCormick, from a little can; it said “When It Rains, It Pours” on the salt package, and the parsley was regular American. Yet that salad was really, really good. I hope to pick up a few tomatoes and peppers at Mark and Nancy’s this afternoon and try it out.