One Perfect Tomato
This week’s mission is going to be a little… unusual. Instead of busying ourselves with techniques and tools, we’re going to simply buy, and eat a single, perfect tomato. Warning: it may forever change the way you think about food. We’ll be featuring guest Nikki Sylianteng, creator of eating carefully, who will share her own thoughtful way of eating tomatoes.
You may have heard of a certain lil’ software tool called Photoshop. Photographers and image artists use Photoshop in a variety of ways to transform the photos they take. Some use it to create fantastic compositions, expressing an inner vision that cannot be found in nature alone. Others use it to “correct” deficiencies in the original photograph, adjusting contrast or wiping out blemishes.
Cooking, in many ways, is like Photoshop for food. You start with what nature has given you, and you transform, rearrange or improve upon it using the tools of the kitchen. Sometimes less-than-stellar ingredients (such as apples stored over a long winter) can be transformed into luscious treats (apple pie) through the medium of heat. Other times, you take an otherwise unassuming ingredient (eggplant), combine it with something special (garlic), and suddenly you have a masterpiece.
But occasionally, you start with a raw ingredient that is so exemplary, so perfect in every way, that you can’t think of a single way to improve it with cooking. Like a photographer who has taken the perfect photo, you simply need to put it in a frame and hang it up on the wall.
A great example of that ingredient is the summer tomato.*
Here in the Northern hemisphere, summer is currently in full swing, and it’s the perfect time to go Photoshop-free in the kitchen. We are going to start with exemplary source material—and discover that we don’t need to do much else to it in order to enjoy it. In the process, you’ll learn how to instantly upgrade the way you cook by paying close attention to the raw ingredients.
The best way to learn is by doing. So let’s start the mission—the first step will show you how to find this perfect tomato!
* Note: If you don’t like tomatoes, I suggest you substitute a perfect peach or nectarine. Alice Waters, owner of the famed Chez Panisse in California, had the gumption to serve a single unadorned peach for dessert at her high-end restaurant. This exercise is not limited to tomatoes, and I encourage you to repeat it with as many ingredients as you wish.
one perfect tomato
salt, sugar, olive oil, or other simple adornments optional
Lesson Gallery... Yum yum.
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