Friday, September 21, 2007

The Juiciest One of All

This morning, I sliced open the first of my Top Sirloin tomatoes to be harvested. I've waited a long time for these big beauties to ripen, and this one rewarded my patience abundantly. When I think of real tomato flavor, this is its epitome: something sweet, but not too sweet, bursting with congealed (and not too watery) juice and tender seeds, and with a tender, succulent, meaty flesh. And so red throughout! The Green Zebras are a fine novelty tomato, but the Top Sirloins are a fruit straight from Eden . . . yes, the tomato is a New World vegetable, but it deserves a place in Old World mythology. My ideal tomato is big and muscular.

In general, I like the idea of planting heirloom varieties and other out-of-the-ordinary types of vegetables, because I like the idea of keeping up some diversity in our food sources. But when something so pleasing tempts the palate, it is foolish to turn it away. I might try a new Italian-style tomato, a new early variety, or a new novelty type, but this Top Sirloin variety will always have a place in my garden . . . that is, as long as I have seeds for it. I do have some leftovers from this year and last year, but I couldn't find it among the varieties at the Ferry-Morse Web site. If it has been discontinued, I'll have to search out another good beefsteak tomato, of a kind that doesn't crack or split easily, ripens to a most glorious uniform shade of scarlet, and perfectly fulfills its promise of velvety, supple flesh and a flavor that can make a person believe in miracles.

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