Paul Greenberg: The taste of love

BY PAUL GREENBERG Published: June 17, 2012
Advertisement
;

This time of year, it's not the U.S. dollar but a different currency that reigns supreme here in Arkansas. And no doubt far beyond. It circulates widely. It's carefully assayed and weighed out by judicious appraisers. It's traded freely with satisfaction guaranteed and good will all around.

In other parts of the country, dinner guests may arrive with flowers in hand, or carrying dessert. But in this bountiful season, folks will come through the door carrying a plain brown paper sack, and inside will be treasure — red, pink, green, gold or a mixed palette of all.

Tomatoes!

Fresh, unspoiled, unrefrigerated and certainly not mass-produced.

It's the good old summertime, and the bounty of the land begins to flow toward dinner tables.

All year long we wait, knowing better than to confuse the alleged tomatoes in the supermarket with the real thing. They may look pretty as a picture, but they can taste like one, too. Because they're made for looking at, not eating. Now is the time to switch to the eating kind, the best kind, the kind worth waiting for.

In these latitudes, we look forward to the first tomatoes of the year the way a Frenchman awaits the first Beaujolais. The early arrivals may not be full-bodied yet but maturing, rosy-hued, pink if held up to the light just right, or maybe bright red if allowed to ripen, a lovely little weight in the hand, arriving like promise itself. And now, with summer finally here, a promise to be fulfilled.

The tomato season in Arkansas officially began with the 56th annual Pink Tomato Festival, at the unofficial capital of Tomatoland, USA: Warren, Ark.

There may have been varieties aplenty on display at the tomato festival, but there's no tomato so distinctive, so local and so awaited during the long, drab winter as — ta-da! — the Bradley County Pink.

You can almost hear the fanfare when you open the first lug. You know they'll be as succulent as they are ugly. The worse they look, the better they taste. That's the rule of (green) thumb with Bradley County Pinks.

Continue reading this story on the...