Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tomato Town

"It's gone?" I said looking at the empty bowl.
"It was good," Mr. Wonderful said wiping his mouth.
"But you downed... all of them."
"Just the good ones."
"They're all good."
"Exactly."


One of the joys of living in a house is having a little bit of earth where I can plant tomatoes. Forget cucumbers, watermelons and squash. After living in an apartment ever since college, when we finally bought The House, the only vegetable I wanted to plant was red, seeded and a fruit. Technically.

Unfortunately in our family I was the only one who felt this way about tomatoes. Mr. Wonderful didn't care for them because whenever he got any at a restaurant he left them untouched and pushed to the side of his plate. Which meant: "They're tasteless." Jackson didn't like them either because whenever he smelled tomatoes he said, "Meow." Which means: "There's not enough fish on them." Meow also means, "Feed me"; "Pet me", "Brush me"; and "Stop touching me!"

But I digress.

While the ink of our signatures was still wet on The House's title, I rushed out to the nursery, bought 600 tomato plants and stuck them in the garden planter. I watered them, mulched them and 90 days later had gorgeous cherry tomatoes. I served them whole to Mr. Wonderful but he didn't care for them because when he sliced into one the seeds squirted across the room like a Jackson Pollack painting. Which meant: "These things are too small for a grown man to eat." Jackson didn't like the cherry tomatoes either because whenever he got his paws on a one that had fallen to the ground, he said "Meow". Which meant: "This is a boring toy." Meow also means, "Feed me"; and "You woke me up for this?"

But I digress.

As the summer lengthened the cherry tomatoes were getting dried out in the planter's raised bed. And soon the cherry tomatoes were poof! gone. So I bought tomatoes at the market and tossed them into a salad and served them to Mr. Wonderful but he didn't care for them for he pushed them onto my plate. Which meant: "They're too acidic." Jackson didn't like them either because whenever he even saw me slicing store-bought tomatoes, he said, "Meow." Which means: "Fur balls taste better than these." Meow also means, "Feed me"; and "Wake me when you have something good."

But I'm digressing from the point.

After removing enough concrete from the backyard to cover the 101 Freeway, I was able to plant tomatoes directly into the ground. Happily I abandoned the cherry tomatoes and planted Early Girl tomatoes and some yellow heirloom ones, which the label described as "mild in flavor." In the ground these plants grew tall and lush, like Jack's Beanstalk, or as I say, like nobody's business.

"What are those plants," Mr. Wonderful said a month ago as he lounged in the pool.
"Tomatoes," I said pausing from weeding to wipe the sweat from my forehead.
"But their fruits are big."
"They like being in the ground."
"The plants are falling over themselves."
"They need to be staked."

He leapt out of the pool, grabbed stakes and some green rubber ties. While still dripping with pool water he staked those plants better than any career farmer, or as I say like nobody's darn business. That evening he shared a secret with me.

"I don't like tomatoes but I'm excited about our plants." Needless to say the former information came as no surprise to me. But the latter revelation did. Technically.

When the first Early Girls were red and smelled like a tomato should I plucked several, washed them and set them on the table for sandwiches. When I told him the tomatoes were from our garden, like a master jeweler, he picked one up and examined it. Mr. Wonderful seemed to care for tomato plants when they were ours, big, and produced adult-sized fruit. But would he like eating them? I held my breath.

Mr. Wonderful cut into a crimson globe and laid a slice on his open-faced sandwich. Biting into it he said, "Mmm." Which meant: "This isn't bad." Showing me that quality tomatoes can change a man's opinion. Meanwhile Jackson held fast. He still didn't like for our home-grown treasures because after sniffing one and said, "Meow." Which meant: "Don't call me, I'll call you."

Which I will happily do because with Mr. Wonderful eating so many tomatoes they're aren't that many for me. Technically.