Monday, August 28, 2006

Edible Sunshine

I woke up this morning to a wonderful gift. There on my porch was a box full of Ohio tomatoes! If you've never had a homegrown tomato from Ohio's rich soil then you've never really had a tomato. The taste transports me to lazy warm summer days, old fashioned picnics, Sunday dinners at grandma's house and romps in the creek. Well it also reminds me of long ago days when my best friend and I would take our bikes, a salt shaker and a pocketknife and go hunting tomatoes in other peoples gardens but we won't admit it if you ask. Ohio tomatoes have a distinct 'garden' flavor. That's the only way I can describe it. They're not watered down like the Fl tomatoes I have tried growing for ten years. Being the tomato connoisseur that I am, I have tasted tomatoes from all over the country and none of them compare. I have no tips on canning them because they never stay around long enough. We eat them like apples, or on toast with mayonnaise. Mmmmm, tomato sandwiches.

Tomatoes existed in the US in the early 1800's but they were small with a sour taste. Many people thought that they were poisonous. By the 1840's people in Ohio were planting them in their gardens. A man by the name of Alexander Livingston was born near Reynoldsburg Ohio in 1822. He lived there on his family's farm, didn't have much schooling but had a keen interest in seeds and plants. The residents of Reynoldsburg considered him a kind of expert on these things. In 1852 he purchased 70 acres of land near the farm and started a seed business which became very successful. Then he set out to perfect the tomato. By 1870 he had developed the Paragon tomato and it became quite popular. Over the next 28 years he developed more than thirty other varieties. Many horticulturists give Livingston credit for todays tomatoes. Reynoldsburg Ohio holds a tomato festival every year in honor of him.

Ohio's state beverage is, take a guess, yep tomato juice.

Thank you Chico for the opportunity to gorge myself.

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