Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tomato heaven

Some of you with long memories may remember a post I did about my ability to fail, consistently, at growing tomatoes.

Well folks, this year I DID it *Loud fanfare reverberates across continents*.
I have a greenhouse full of delicious sweet orbs of all shapes, colors and sizes. Their smell instantly takes me back to my Grandfather's greenhouse in Ellington Colliery, a small mining community in the North of England.

Granda Reid was a master gardener who could raise the most exquisite flowers and vegetables. Alas, his secrets on how he created this magic died with him at the tender age of 63. He died from Pneumoconiosis (Black Lung), a common Coal Miner's disease. The description on his death certificate said Pneumonia. Maybe it was easier to spell, but I suspect that was done so the mine did not have to pay compensation to his wife, but I digress.

As a small child, I would stay over at my Grandparent's house for large parts of the summer, and run feral with the other kids in the village. In more quiet times, I would sit with Granda in the semi tropical atmosphere of his sanctuary. He was already showing symptoms of the black disease even then and couldn't walk very far, so we'd sit on small wooden 3 legged stools called "Crackets", and he would tell me stories about growing up looking after his brothers and sisters after his Mom died.

After the story, he would pluck one of his beauties off the vine, slice it in two with a knife he always carried in his pocket, and hand it to me. As I held the fragrant fruit in both hands, he would get up and go to a little drawer in his potting bench and take out a small tin box that had salt and pepper in it. I would hold out my hands with the glistening halves of Tomato in them, and Granda would sprinkle a little on each half as if conducting a well practiced ritual,
He would then watch me pop them in my mouth and waited to see my expression.

Yesterday, I was running late to get to our weekly music session, so I grabbed a snack to eat on the way over in the car. I sliced one of my precious tomatoes, buttered 2 slices of bread, and seasoned it with salt and black pepper. I quickly wrapped a napkin round it and bolted out the door.
As I started the car and backed out of the drive, I could smell my snack. Suddenly, I was back there in the greenhouse in Ellington listening to Granda and watching him wipe his glasses on the tail of his shirt, which always stuck out on one side of his pants as if it was trying to escape.
I pulled a half of the sandwich out of the napkin and bit into it, while pulling to a stop at the end of the road. The flavor was so intense, I had to pull over by the side of the road so I could enjoy the many sensations in my mouth. The sweetness and acidity of the tomato being complimented by the salt and heat of cracked black pepper, not to mention the creaminess of Irish butter, rendered me unable to move.

I must have sat there for at least 10 minutes with the juice running down my face, relishing the memories and thinking of what my Granda's expression would be as he witnessed the pure joy of such a simple pleasure.

Got to go, I can feel a tomato snack coming on ..............


  1. It's quite the best taste there is !
    I always think of my grandmother when I eat plums , preferably out of a brown paper bag on the tram .

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