Tuesday, November 29, 2005


HOLD THE SAUCE


Last night when I was rummaging around in the fridge looking for the leftover makings for one of my many spontaneous Sauce Bobaises for the unique pasta dish I had in mind as dinner, way in back behind the big miso container I came across two tomatoes that I could have sworn I'd used a couple of weeks ago, but apparently hadn't, so by now they were archaeologically quite aged for tomatoes (which tend not to be used in our house once it gets chilly and our tastes turn to more warming vegetables).

Despite their factual age, they still looked like an artist’s rendering of ideal tomatoes: plump, bright red, jewel-like in their integrity, until I picked one of them up and realized that the only integrity it had was its skin, and barely that: it was basically liquid in the ideal tomato container (a marketer's dream). When I placed the tomato on the cutting board and squeezed it lightly, the skin slipped away as though the tomato had been dipped in boiling water, and the innards began to slump rapidly as the liquid spilled away. I wondered: what miraculous chemical advance, what technological marvel has made such a thing possible? I hadn't heard about this one yet: was it a new universal pest eradicator like paraquat used to be? A cutting edge botanical hormone, sort of a stilbestrol for tomatoes? A superspecial preservative derived from Egyptian mummies? A stunning genetic modification like the spinach pig? What?

Without further human intervention, I suspect that those tomatoes would have remained spuriously intact for a long, long time, just the way they are able to do in the world’s supermarkets even today, and no one the wiser.

This morning I saw those very same tomatoes in a photograph that accompanied this article in the newspaper (tomatoless on the net, but just picture a tremulously perfect tomato).

4 comments:

Mary Lou said...

HMmmm I have a lot of biological experiments way in the back of my fridge. I am thinking it is the bio-labs way of getting around the FDA, and all their regulations; take over the back of someones fridge and no one will KNOW!!!

Robert Brady said...

We're guinea pigs, all of us...

M Sinclair Stevens (Texas) said...

You put tomatoes in the fridge? Bob, I'm shocked! And this from a man who nuzzles persimmons in the wild.

Robert Brady said...

Actually, my wife did; I was just the archaeologist.