Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dirty Tomatoes in the Bay

Meanwhile... back in California, Dirty Girl Produce has been unearthing some pretty suggestive Early Girl tomatoes from the fecund soil of the Santa Cruz "banana belt"--perhaps the perfect mates for Windfall's sensual carrots? Local WV correspondent Leafy Heirloom passed along this photo, making me suddenly homesick for the Bay Area's first cherry-red wave of my favorite tomatoes. Luckily, they'll still be going strong through September, so I won't miss them completely.

Early Girls are the very opposite of the sad, ambivalently red-orange, mealy, watery tomatoes that made me repeatedly push the offensive mess to the side of my plate as a child. Bright red, compact, and vibrantly flavored, almost sweet, these girls are the perfect weapon for converting tomato-haters. I am also intrigued by the way these in particular are grown through dry-farming, a pre-industrial technique of cultivating crops through strategic, limited water use instead of comprehensive irrigation. If you want to go agro on tomatoes and dry-farming, check out the ongoing Tomato Watch feature on the Oakland resturant Oliveto's Community Journal blog, in particular the interview on dry-farming with Dirty Girl's head Dirty Boy, Joe Shirmer.

My favorite part of the video is near the end when Joe describes how the increasingly parched tomato plants react in the wake of a heat wave that makes them bear fruit. He starts getting really excited and says, "They just kind of get stressed and hot and kind of go "uh!," throwing both hands up in a gesture that punctuates the "uh!" sound of the weary tomato plants blowing their last life force into these glorious ruby fruits. In case you missed it, I also had an intense tomato moment last September, during the first bloom of my crush on Early Girls...

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