blight |blīt|nouna plant disease, esp. one caused by fungi such as mildews, rusts, and smuts : the vines suffered blight and disease | [with adj. ] potato blight.• informal anything that causes a plant disease or interferes with the healthy growth of a plant.• [in sing. ] a thing that spoils or damages something : her remorse could be a blight on that happiness.
Several weeks ago I read online about this season’s tomato blight which was affecting most of the nation, limiting availability and driving up the price. This gave me fair concern, as I am a lover of all things that are tomatoes.
I’m not talking about the red things in the produce department of many groceries stores which try and pass for tomatoes. They are a disgrace. Usually sprayed within an inch of their lives to ward off insects and disease, they are then picked before they even start to think about ripening. (Yes, tomatoes do have thoughts. I am sure of it). Add insult to injury, they spend a considerable amount of time in trucks, planes and trains, many of the tomatoes coming from Canada this year.
Canada? Excuse me, but blight or no blight, the food industry honestly doesn’t have any U.S. sources for tomatoes? Oh please. Nothing against Canada, really. I just don’t want to eat their tomatoes.
Okay sorry, I got side tracked there for a second. Let’s go back to our tragic tomato’s travels. During their many miles of travel and usually long after, they get thrown into refrigerated storage which makes me all kinds of crazy. Ever see some decent looking tomatoes at the store and think, wow! A real tomato! Only to get it home, slice it up, and realize the delicate flesh has been desecrated to a mealy texture and consistency? Yep, thank the chill factor for that.
So imagine my glee when I arrived at at our local Farmer’s Market this past Saturday. Tomato Central people! Heirloom varietals, cherry, pear and tear drop tomatoes, green, yellow, orange, striped, even purple tomatoes! Organic in nature, never sprayed, never air chilled, all grown locally.
I will eat the small ones just like candy, popping one glorious jewel at a time into my mouth, no cutlery needed. The heirloom tomatoes need nothing more than a sharp knife, a sprinkling of sea salt, some herbs if you wish, a few drops of quality oil or vinegar, and you have a dish to remember long after the season of tomatoes has passed.
I even came across a stall that were selling a hefty amount of ruby gems for $1.00 per pound. Yes, one dollar a pound. Why were they so cheap? Oh, because they were ripe. Seriously, I am not making this up. They weren’t a fancy hybrid, they didn’t have stripes, but they were perfectly red and smelled like a hot, summer day. I brought them home with me, and they will soon be transformed into a refreshing Cold Gazpacho Soup, perfect for a lunch or light supper during this blistering heat we continue to have.
If my recipe is a success (fingers crossed), I’ll post it tomorrow. I just hope you are lucky enough to have a source for some great tomatoes. If not, don’t waste your time or money. Those of you who are growing your own, rock on folks.
May the blight not be with you.