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Red Tomatoes: Don't Hate Them Because They’re Beautiful

Growing up, I thought all tomatoes were red.

Then, slowly, it came to my attention that there were yellow tomatoes, too.

Much more recently, with the Heirloom Revolution, we were pleased to discover that tomatoes come in purple, green, shades of pink, and even in a kind of pale off-white.

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These heirloom varieties are said to be somewhat less disease resistant, and they may not travel as well as some red tomatoes. As a result of such practical concerns and market pressures, the red tomato became THE tomato on most sandwiches and salads.

In my Oak Park garden, I have a dozen tomato plants, most of them heirloom varieties: Black Krim, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra and others.

This year, however, I also planted four traditional red tomato plants because I’ve realized that I like the red ones best.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the variation provided by the laid back sweetness of the Black Krim and slightly tart Green Zebra, but overall, to me, the red tomato has the best balance of sweet and tart, meatiness and juiciness, firmness and tenderness, and it looks great, brilliantly colored and beautifully lush.

I plan to keep planting a variety of tomato plants of all colors, but I’ve come to realize, after years of eating hundreds upon hundreds of tomatoes of all colors, that red is really my favorite, not only because it tastes very good but because it looks very good.

I’m not above admitting that, perhaps, my preference for red tomatoes is based on a lifetime of having red ones presented as the pinnacle of tomato goodness. That may be, and I wouldn’t claim that the red tomato is the universal paradigm of tomatic perfection, but I find that when I’m selecting love apples for lunch, more often than not, it’s the red ones I reach for.
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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Hammond, as with your ill-advised assault on S'mores, you've really crossed the line on this one. Fine, I'll accept your claim that you prefer the taste of the boring, determinate red tomatoes, chacun à son goût. But to proclaim their beauty above all others? Above the modern stripey-ness of the green zebra? And the fading, two-tone blush red of the bottom heirloom in your picture?

Nuts.
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The "modern stripey-ness" of an heirloom tomato?
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David Hammond wrote:The "modern stripey-ness" of an heirloom tomato?


That's right. The Green Zebra was ahead of its time.
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aschie30 wrote:
David Hammond wrote:The "modern stripey-ness" of an heirloom tomato?


That's right. The Green Zebra was ahead of its time.


Uh-huh.

You may see Frank Stella in the skin of a Green Zebra, and that's just fine, but here's how I can tell if I like something and am not just over-thinking a dish: do I have seconds. When I'm writing about food, especially if I'm reviewing a place, I just eat, and the platters I go for more than once are the ones I like. Now, if I philosophize about the food, I can convince myself that I like or dislike almost anything, but what matters is if I go for it again. I've noticed, when it's lunchtime at my house, and I'm making a tomato salad, I gravitate toward the red tomatoes. That must mean I like them. Having established that, I figure out why.
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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I like red tomatoes too. I generally dont like any food that is not the color it is supposed to be. I dont like white eggplant, purple green beans or yellow peppers. I do like red peppers. give me a nice red tomato any day. Id gladly munch on the heirlooms if it was offered.
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Toria

"I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
W. Shakespeare
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Sheesh, Hammond, we won't let you lead us into that most elemental philosophical mistake in all of aesthetics: to wit, confusing the judgment "I like this" with the judgment "This is good". The two claims neither imply one another, nor deny one another. The first is autobiographical at best, merely psychological at worst. The second is empirical at best, metaphysical at worst.

Quite different, those two claims.

Someone says to me "Hammond likes bog-standard red tomatoes", I just shrug my shoulders, and roll my eyes. But if Hammond tells me "Red tomatoes are the finest tomatoes", well then, I'll come at him hammer and tong, philosophically speaking.

I've got a chapter on this very subject in Wine and Philosophy. :D

Geo
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Geo wrote:Someone says to me "Hammond likes bog-standard red tomatoes", I just shrug my shoulders, and roll my eyes. But if Hammond tells me "Red tomatoes are the finest tomatoes", well then, I'll come at him hammer and tong, philosophically speaking.

I've got a chapter on this very subject in Wine and Philosophy. :D

Geo


David Hammond wrote:I wouldn’t claim that the red tomato is the universal paradigm of tomatic perfection, but I find that when I’m selecting love apples for lunch, more often than not, it’s the red ones I reach for.


You can over-think appetites and tastes. My simple test for a food is whether I want seconds. If I do, the food must be good (to me, not absolutely) because my belly says it’s happy and wants more.
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Hammond wrote:If I do, the food must be good because my belly says it’s happy and wants more.


Absolutely NOT. Re-read the first sentences of my msg. That fact that your belly says "I'm happy" doesn't in the slightest imply that "The food must be good." The only thing(s) that would imply that the food is good is a characterization of the food, plus a list of the criteria of goodness, and the claim that the characterization satisfies the criteria.

When your belly tells you "I'm happy" the ONLY thing it's telling you (and the rest of the world) is that "Hammon's belly likes this food."

The fact that you like it supplies no reason for me to think that the food is, indeed, good in any objective sense.


And as for overthinking, well, that's the job description for any reflective activity, overthinking. Someone's got to do it!

:twisted:

Geo
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I've grown at least 20 different heirlooms over the years. The ones that stand out from the crowd are:

Cherokee Purple
Wapiscon Peach (yellow)

The Wapiscon Peach is the most susceptible to disease of any I've ever grown.
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Geo wrote:
Hammond wrote:If I do, the food must be good because my belly says it’s happy and wants more.


Absolutely NOT. Re-read the first sentences of my msg. That fact that your belly says "I'm happy" doesn't in the slightest imply that "The food must be good." The only thing(s) that would imply that the food is good is a characterization of the food, plus a list of the criteria of goodness, and the claim that the characterization satisfies the criteria.


George, I read your msg several times before responding in hopes it would make sense (to me...if I can even say that, because don't we need an objective standard of what "sense" is?).

To add to the complexity of your position, wouldn't it be necessary for all discussants to agree on the "list of criteria" before any one can assert, with any kind of persuasiveness, to any group of people, "Tastes good"?

So let me get this straight, before anyone on this board ever again says "X was good," we have to characterize the food (whatever that means in normal discourse), provide a list of criteria (generally agreed upon by everyone who reads this board: impossible), and then a point-by-point comparison of the food against the criteria (are all criteria given equal weight; must all criteria be met before a food can be judged good?).

Gulliver, beam me up to Laputa!

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PS. Geo, you know I respect your positions, but speaking as one who spent too many years in academia, your position here seems overly doctrinaire to me.
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Well, David, you're of course right: my position is waaaay overly complicated for ordinarly life, or even for the bump uplevel to this board. BUT, I'm just sayin'... :cry: My position is encumbered by the fact that I do this for a living, and what I do for a living is not fun to watch, listen to, read, or, tooo frequently, participate in. Philosophy, as my pal Norman Schwartz has argued, is a blood sport.

All that having been said, I agree, yes, your description of what I think it would take to correctly say, for example, This is a fine wine, is essentially correct. I first struggled to get my thoughts on the 'this is good' vs. 'I like it' issue clear in '76, in an article called "Are Some Aesthetic Judgments Empirically True?" (Amer. Philsophical Quarterly) I've been struggling with it ever since, publishing a couple of articles on the subject in two of so-called Epicurean Trilogy. My position might in the end be hopeless, but it's mine, I've worked on it, and I'm gonna stick with it until it fails.

Let me at least try to justify my trying to work out a position like this. It really does seem to me that the claim "I like this" is about me, my psychology, my autobiography. It simply doesn't say anything about the features of whatever 'this' is. However, if I know you well, and I respect your taste, then it's at least plausible that your claim to like 'this' suggests that I *might* like it too. Maybe that's the only reason art (movies, food, restos, etc) criticism exists??

I'm interested in the countering case, too. I have been in the situation where I was faced with a really fine example of an 'x', a really virtuous x, and an x suitable for aesthetic appraisal, but, even tho' I knew x was a good one of its kind, I didn't like it.
In this situation, the psychological and the aesthetic judgments are quite evidently distinct. I want to ultimately be able to account for this gap between the judgments.

If, in the end, we allow that "like" equals "good", then the whole realm that you and I and all our wonderful colleagues on this board share such a passion for, collapses into pure relativism. Namely, everything liked is good, nothing disliked is good, but everybody dislikes something sometime; hence, nothing's good. (Whew, where did THAT come from??)

Anyway, here's a tiny attempt at a précis of where I'm at/coming from.

Sorry this is so rambling and incoherent... :oops:


Geo
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Geo, there's still enough of the academic in me to appreciate thinking about what you're saying, and I think you're right that when you know a critic, his or her criticism becomes more valuable to you. That's why I find it valuable to read people like, for instance, Phil Vettel: I've been reading him long enough to know him, and within the realm of discourse he's chosen to inhabit, I can appreciate his place.

This also means that to a first time-visitor to LTHForum.com, this continuing conversation of our 10.5+K members must be a chaotic, almost inaccessible universe of opinions. Who do you trust? At least, with a newspaper or magazine, someone somewhere on some editorial review committee has said they feel we can trust Vettel or Sula or Tamarkin. That's some kind of sanctioning. But for a discussion board like ours, it takes a long time to figure out who you can trust on which subjects (though one thing's for sure: you can pretty much trust ReneG on any food topic chooses to discuss).

And although in the end it may all boil down to chacun/de gustibus, etc., and that the conclusion "this is good" is ultimately subjective, there may be a very broad area where most of us would agree that X is good and Y is not. Case in point: last weekend none of us had seconds on an octopus dish; my conclusion: it was, for all of us, not good.
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So this is what one does with a degree in philosophy. All this time I thought it was wait tables. :wink:
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Steve Z.

"Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?" - Dan Janssen
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Nicely put, DH. I'll leave it here, it's in a good place. (And I certainly trust SteveZ--he's always right about Kansas City! : )

But Steve, I've always more liked pouring than waiting! Last semester I hosted a wine tasting for Concordia's College of Engineering, and they let me choose the wines PLUS they paid for it all. Now *there's* a fine use of a philosophy degree! :P

Geo
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Geo wrote: Last semester I hosted a wine tasting for Concordia's College of Engineering, and they let me choose the wines PLUS they paid for it all. Now *there's* a fine use of a philosophy degree! :P

Geo


Nice work if you can get it! :lol:
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