Stacey’s M.M. Post: Tomatoes

Jersey Tomatoes. The sound of those two words evokes a strong smell memory. I can smell the garden-fresh, bright red, ripe tomatoes my father grew in our backyard when I was a little girl. The aroma of the soil, the smell of the vines, and the taste of the tomatoes whose juice would dribble down my chin upon biting-in all comes back when I hear those two words – Jersey Tomatoes.

The garden in our backyard was small, but well-tended. My parents both worked out back to keep it looking its best, but it was really my father’s project. He’d often return home from work at night, in the summer months, and would head to the backyard to water the plants and pick the veggies that were ready to part with the plants. Zucchinis larger than baseball bats, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, and of course, tomatoes, grew in our backyard throughout my childhood.

Sometime in my teens, my father covered over the garden with dirt and then with grass seed. I remember feeling upset knowing that I would no longer watch him head to the backyard to tend to the vegetables on summer nights. To this day, I don’t know why my dad stopped cultivating vegetables in our backyard. Perhaps it’s a question I should ask…

And now, whenever I see beautiful vine-ripened tomatoes, I get close enough to smell them. (“Helping” my Dad as he would line up the tomato plants so that they’d grow just-right in our backyard.) If the smell of the tomatoes in the store reminds me of the aroma of the ones that were just-picked as a child, then they’re mine.

So… what’s on the dinner menu in my home tonight? Well, just look and see what caught my eye (and my nose) at the grocery store yesterday…