I say tahmayto…and I would advise you to do the same…

tomato_pasta_0026

It is well known that the tomato has a colourful history, filled with misunderstanding, suspicion and rumour. However, it has now not only found acceptance but has become so deeply ingrained in our food tradition that several highly seasoned purées of this previously highly suspect fruit have achieved near iconic status. Ironically, it is not the fresh tomato that has stormed the barricades, but the tinned, bottled and fucked about varieties that have overwhelmed our prejudices and found a foothold in every kitchen. Never have food allergies been so prevalent, or so clearly recorded, as in this present time.  General intolerance is not unusual in mankind but that which relates to food is particularly ill suited to life on a hungry planet, yet such intolerance is rare where the tomato is concerned.

Over the last few days I have been watching a lot of tomato cooking and bloodshed. It’s made me see red; red being the prime colour and taste of both a goodfella’s palette and palate . If orange tartrazine makes innocent children hyperactive, there’s no question that red tomatazine makes sociopaths hypervindictive. An episode of the Sopranos is unimaginable without a series of cameo performances by the versatile tinned tomato; it surprises me that they do not receive the credit, that they fully deserve, with the other members of the cast who often have smaller parts ( that’s not a very nice thing to say, I know).  Each gripping episode features a series of conspiratorial gatherings in varied locations, invariably around a groaning table, primarily involving keenly debated discussions on the number of tins of tomatoes to be put into the sauce, the importance of which far outweighs the interest  in deciding the number of disrespectful goombas who need to be “clipped”that day …. after lunch of course.  I say lunch, but it’s hard to define exact meal nomenclatures in the life of a goodfella as a large proportion of his time is spent with a knife and fork in his hand; for the other part, he just puts down the fork. Why did J. Edgar never think of just banning the importation of tinned tomatoes? Lysistrata knew which side her bed was buttered.  No self respecting paesan could have carried on being beastly without the regular availability of steaming tureens filled with meatballs, sausages, spaghetti, and meat loaf all bathed in a red mist of carefully constructed tomato sauce. There should be a codecil to the Second Amendment stating that bearing firearms is fine, but not after eating anything containing tinned tomatoes.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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51 Responses to I say tahmayto…and I would advise you to do the same…

  1. suej says:

    Enjoyed this one…. But I say tomahto, and shall continue to do so!!! ;-)

  2. I love the way your sauce clings to the pasta. That has always been my goal, not always successful, when making a tomato sauce. The Sopranos was one of the very few programs I watched. Brilliant!

  3. Usually that ultimatum (ultomato?) ends with “…if you know what’s good for yas.”

  4. Misky says:

    I learn so much from your photos, Roger. But how in heaven’s name do you achieve such amazing lighting at this time of year?

  5. I didn’t know what I was going to cook for dinner tonight; now I know. Thanks :-) “General intolerance is not unusual in mankind but that which relates to food is particularly ill suited to life on a hungry planet” : very true.

  6. Mad Dog says:

    It would be very hard to ban the tinned imported tomatoes when the plants themselves originate from the New World ;-)

  7. I come from the tomayto place partly because otherwise I’d have to say potahtoe and that’s just wrong!

  8. When we move back I plan on a decent greenhouse so I can have fresh tomatoes. Not a fan of the tinned either. And this reminds me, my husband and I never finished watching the Sopranos.

  9. Eha says:

    Ignorant of ‘The Sopranos’ and, methinks, of ‘Goodfellas’ [tho' I do like de Niro usually!!] but the fruit is ‘tomah-to’ and it very firmly joins ‘vah-se’ . . . but have never felt like saying ‘potah-to’ :) ! Oh well, I still remember my red face in London when first catching a taxi to Beauchamp Place – ‘Ma’am, it is pronounced ‘Beecham’ from the hotel doorman’ :) !!!

  10. I certainly have tinned tommar…toes and tommar…toe paste on my shelf, but that’s because I’m single and live in the city (where it’s actually hard to buy a decent, fully-ripened, flavoursome tomato). If I lived in the country or on your typical old Australian quarter acre block, I’d be growing them like my parents always did.

    I actually find it interesting the way different states (and city/countryside) pronounce words in my country. It can depend on your eduction too. Then there’s the difference in Australians and British pronunciation.

    I loved this post (as I do all of your posts), but would love it even more if I could fly over to France and get some cooking & photography lessons from you. But I’m spending Christmas Day and a the day after up the country with a light, bright sun-filled kitchen & rolling hills outside filled with wonderful light, so hopefully some better food photos will result.

    • Sounds like you’ll be having a perfect Christmas. I think I’ve been misunderstood in this post…..I am a total devotee of tinned tomatoes…nothing makes a better sauce than tinned tomatoes..the thrust of post was that they appeared to be the fuel for mobsters:)

  11. Tomato sauce has never contained anything but fresh tomatoes since I dated the Swiss Italian. He made his Italian mother’s sauce for me, and I was immediately delivered.

  12. Oh, that plate of pasta…now I’m craving.

  13. Your post made me laugh and your picture makes me hungry for a dish of pasta, or macaroni as my father would have said. Take the macaroni but leave the gun.

  14. Karen says:

    Now that is a beautiful plate of pasta…let’s hope it wasn’t one to die over. :)

  15. mrsugarbears says:

    Oh my. Your food always looks so delectable!
    One of my dear friends is italian and I will never forget the first time she asked me if I wanted more gravy. Gravy? She also used tinned tomatoes and it was always delicious! Your Goodfellas reference made me think of it. :)

  16. Oh, I envy your watching the Sopranos for the first time–it is indeed brilliant, especially the first three seasons. After that, not as great, but James Gandolfini was superb all the way through.
    Definitely tahmayto!

  17. ChgoJohn says:

    “Lysistrata knew which side her bed was buttered.” That she did, and then some.
    I agree wholeheartedly with your views of tinned tomatoes but, then again, I’ve quite a few of last year’s harvest frozen, just waiting to be called into action. My views will certainly change once I’ve reached the end of my frozen stash. I don’t buy “fresh” tomatoes from November to May, for they taste anything but fresh.

    • As I’ve said before, I’m a total devotee of tinned tomatoes, unless I have bottles of preserved tomatoes, which I don’t. Tinned tomatoes make a wonderful tomato sauce that is hard to equal. Our best tomatoes here are available between August and October….this year, owing to the rainy Spring, there were very few tomatoes of quality. I love the fresh tomato sauce made with pomodorini that we used to have on the Amalfi coast.

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