Tomatoes are my favorite vegetables. Technically, tomatoes are fruits. According to those who know, they are fruits because they contain seeds, but then so do cucumbers, green beans and walnuts. By that standard, my testicles are also fruits. As evidence of that fact I point to Deuteronomy. Does the Old Testament not warn of the dangers of spilling your seed upon the ground? Do I not consistently fail to heed that warning? Either my nuts are fruits, or tomatoes are vegetables. You can’t have it both ways. Where tomatoes are concerned, the fruit versus vegetable debate is a slippery slope, a slope made even more slippery by seed spilt to no good end. It is a viscous [sic] cycle indeed.
The answer to the riddle is in the context. In my kitchen, those glorious crimson orbs (tomatoes I mean) are treated as vegetables in every sense of the word. Many experts will concede that the manner in which tomatoes are typically processed in the kitchen supports the contention that they can be correctly referred to as veggies. So it looks like my nadicles are not fruits after all.
As I said before, tomatoes are my favorite vegetable. As I stroll the aisles in the vegetable section of the local supermarket, I point and laugh at the waxy, tough skinned, pinkish-green knobs that pass for tomatoes these days. Sometimes in the off-season, when I have failed to practice good tomato husbandry, I fumble through the grocery store pile, reaching far to the back of the bin hoping to find an overlooked specimen, one that is just a little less abominable than the others. But they are all the same. I’ve never eaten a tumor before, but I have the feeling I would not be totally surprised by the experience.
I’ve raised tomatoes almost every year for the last thirty-five years. I cook with them, can them, prepare them in every conceivable permutation, and otherwise devour them in logic-defying quantities all season long.
From the day my first tomato ripens on the vine each spring, until the last lid on the last jar of tomato sauce is popped off, my intestines maintain a state of agitation due to the high acid content of the varieties I prefer to grow. I liken tomatoes to one of my least favorite deities. They provide happiness and they promise more of the same for all of the days of your life. But they are also menacing and vengeful. If you rely too heavily on them for your daily ration of ecstasy, you will surely turn your blistered colon inside-out on some unhappy day. Not that it’s a bad thing.
The worst of them all are the raccoons. When they found my tomatoes about four years ago, they breached the net barrier in less than one second. They devastated crop after crop. They ripped off limbs and ate their fill, lounging in piles of greenery with tomato juice on their paws and all over their faces. I tried all manner of defensive action until one evening; I looked out the window and saw twelve coons, exactly twelve, having a goddamn party in the tomato patch and laying waste to my jalapeño plants. I waded in amongst them with a paintball gun. By the time the last one made it up and over the fence, their fur matted with mutli-colored dye, I was sure they had had enough. Where brains are concerned, I guess size does matter; they were back thirty minutes later as if nothing ever happened. I installed the electric fence around my tomatoes the next day and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of them since.
Note: With the exception of a few sore rumps from the paintball incident, no animals were harmed during the tomato wars and no immediate family members were separated. It was primarily old bachelor males and breeding age reprobates amongst the squirrels and coons who were given their marching orders.