You say tomato, I say woe is me.

tomEveryone is gushing about tomatoes these days. Yammering on and on about how perfect they are, heirloom this and that, just a drizzle of olive oil and some salt, dizzying profusion, vine ripened, sweet meaty flesh, panoply of colors, blah blah blah. Hell, I even rhapsodized about tomatoes about this time last year. Yes, people, tomatoes in August are amazing. I get it. There are a million ways to prepare them, but simplest is best. I get it. Eat them now or forever hold your peace. I GET IT!

You think I don’t understand? Me? The woman who would marry tomatoes if she wasn’t already married to bacon and Doctor Dash? Me? I freakin’ love tomatoes. I’m like the Mother Theresa of tomatoes. The wan, weak, mealy ones? I love those too. They’re all part of God’s plan, and if you have to throw ‘em in a low oven for some slow cookin’ caramelization to make ‘em palatable, then vaya con Dios, mis hijos, I’m in.

See the picture? That’s what I’ve had for lunch or dinner or both, every day since we went to the Mill City Farmers Market this past Saturday (which, incidentally, is my new fave market. Have you noticed a pattern? The last one I visit is my favorite. It has grown tremendously since last summer, but still maintains the cool, locavore, minimalist aesthetic of its founder Brenda Langton of Cafe Brenda and Spoonriver. Maybe it’s the backdrop of the mighty Mississippi and the brooding, cool-as-shit blue Guthrie Theater, but this market really feels like an open air temple to good, fresh, delicious food. And they have dim sum carts. And they have a delicious pig cart where you can get an egg and bacon breakfast sandwich. And they have mini donuts. And pies. And smoked trout. And live goats). I digress. I digress and I need to get back to feeling ambivalent and tortured about tomatoes.

I have been around the bend a few times and to me this shameless orgy of tomato goodness is bittersweet, although admittedly juicy and delicious. It represents the beginning of the end. Summer is waning, and tomatoes are like the glittery confetti at a New Years party. Tomatoes are the grand finale at the fireworks show. Tomatoes are the last hurrah. They are Mother Nature’s one last blast of love, of goodwill, of sweet summer warmth. She is saying good bye and like any smart woman, saving the best for last. (Fall harvest gourds and squashes don’t count, so don’t split hairs and mess with my metaphor mojo.) 

And because you, my readers, are empathetic creatures, you may be asking yourselves: Why, Peevish Mama, why, why must you be so sad? Why can’t you just enjoy the tomatoes? I would sigh a mighty sigh, my gaze fixed on an uncertain point in the middle distance, my eyes brimming with salty tears, and answer you thusly: I am enjoying the tomatoes, my little ones. They are perfection. They are poetry. They fill my heart and my belly in innumerable, indescribable ways. Tomatoes, my loves, are exquisite, yes. But so are these dwindling honeyed days of summer. And for all that fleeting beauty, I cry into my gazpacho. I cry. 

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