Dear Readers,


I hope this week’s edition of our newsletter finds you in impeccable health and wellbeing on this very wet day, actually we’ve had a full 5 of them so far this week and very wet ones at that; if you’re listening up there, we’re wet enough, thank you very much, so if you could turn the rain off and switch on the sun that would be most appreciated.


I like fresh tomatoes, a lot of people like them, whether they are sliced and dropped into salads or cut up and used to make a fresh tomato pasta sauce, I honestly don’t know what I would do if all of a sudden tomatoes did not exist anymore.  However, choosing what you think will be tasty and juicy tomatoes and then trying to convince yourself that the purchase you are about to make is the right one can be a very stressful experience, particularly if your finances don’t stretch to buying fruit tomatoes.  Even when you pay premium prices to buy the fruity version there is no guarantee that you’re going to have any better tomato eating experience than if you buy the common 5 in a pack for just over 300 yen hot house grown usually very watery and tasteless variety.  I’m not an expert on tomatoes by any means, but I’ve bought and eaten enough of them over the years, both in the UK and here in Japan, to qualify as a person that shall we say, knows his tomatoes, which somewhat makes up for not knowing my onions.


Anyway back to tomatoes, this bit of tomato knowledge I have generally makes my tomato buying expeditions into a rather time consuming and stressful affair because I just know what I’m going to be faced with every time I set foot inside a supermarket; if it’s not just the worry about whether or not I get the fluffy and uneven seed type of tomato it’s the worry that the bottom of the tomatoes or the parts of them that have been resting against each other have gotten bruised and have become soft and mushy.  In some things, actually quite a lot of things, I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that it’s just better to approach things without too much in the way of concern, as a clueless individual if you will, and even if you’re not clueless, pretend you are and believe you me positive things will happen, as they did to me the other day when I thought I would give the clueless approach a go when I went out to buy some tomatoes.


I started out, as I usually do, by visiting one particular supermarket within my locality that I have been buying food from for years, but instead of spending time there painstakingly looking over all the tomato produce on offer to me, I pushed my experiment mode button and I literally just went up to the area that I generally avoid like the plague, the “just over 300 yen for 5 tomatoes area”, and without thinking about where I was and what I was just about to do, I reached into the trays of tomatoes that were on display, and without paying any attention at all to what had quickly found its way into my right hand I popped it into my basket and that was that!  I thought nothing more of it as I continued walking around the supermarket buying the rest of the food on my shopping list.


Once home, again paying very little attention to the tray tomatoes I had bought I unpacked all the food I had bought and I started to prepare dinner for my family.  On this particular day, pasta with a pork Ragu sauce and a mixed green salad was on the menu, so as I usually do I prepared all the ingredients for my Ragu sauce and got it to the stage where it was simmering away waiting for an hour to pass before it could be served and eaten.  I then started to prepare the salad vegetables for my green salad, washing and drying everything well before placing them next to my chopping board.  The first think that came to hand were a couple of long thin cucumbers that sliced thinly, then some baby radishes, some red onion and some red and green bell peppers, which again got the thinly sliced treatment, I then added some water cress and a selection of very fresh and crispy mixed salad leaves.


It was finally time to get the tomatoes onto the chopping board, I sliced the first one in half and to my surprise both halves looked the same, not fluffy and they were equal in the number of seeds contained within them, which as mentioned already, is sadly very rare.  I became quite excited and asked my wife to take a couple of pictures, the same pictures that are living at the top of this article, my wife wondered what the hell I was up to, especially when I started to repeat over and over again to myself, as I cut in half and sliced one tomato after the next : “ I can’t believe it!  No, it can’t be possible!  It bloody well is.  I can’t remember the last time I bought a pack of tomatoes like this, they’re all good ones, juicy and with an even distribution of seeds, and all for just over 300 yen”.  So there they were, all 5 tomatoes, sliced and sitting on top of salad leaves, cress and all the other things in my salad bowl ready to be dressed and tossed.  Unfortunately, a tomato with an equal distribution of seeds and a fluffy-less texture does not necessarily mean that when you pop a slice of it into your mouth you’re going to have a good eating experience, technically you should have, but if you do you are very lucky because most tomatoes, whether the cheap or expensive genetically engineered fruity variety, that you buy from supermarkets are grown in hot houses and are for the most part tasteless slices/pieces of fluffy watery pulp, which sadly turned out to be the case when my family sat down to eat our dinner.


Well, although my lack of care and attention during the purchasing part of the process had managed to procure better looking tomatoes, it had done absolutely nothing for the taste of them, so I wonder what it is that I need to do on top of that to guarantee I’m going to get a better tasting tomato?  The answer to that is probably just to throw caution to the wind and grow my own tomatoes, which of course is very possible to do, but due to certain restrictions and limitations of one kind or another the family demand would quickly outweigh the supply and we would quickly find ourselves back to square one.


After all that messing about, I will inevitably be forced to go back to my old way of hit and miss, mostly miss, time consuming approach to shopping for tomatoes, which considering that regardless of the amount of money you spend it really is still hit or miss shopping, is very frustrating and  annoying.  Most of all it’s incredibly stressful and soul destroying when, with heart beating quickly, hand slightly shaking in anticipation and beads of sweat on brow forming, yes, this really is my usual routine, you cut in half your first tomato which turns out to be disappointment number 1, you then move onto tomato number 2, same again, then on to tomato 3, which is a bit of an improvement but far from the standard you feel you deserve based on the amount of money you’ve spent.  Finally with knife poised and with absolutely no expectation whatsoever that you’re going to hit the jackpot you cut the last tomato in half and low and behold tomato number 4 is a winner, so the final result is 1 tomato out of 4 that cost about 150 yen each is worthy of slicing and putting into your salad bowl with the other 3 not at all worthy of being added to a salad nor of being called tomatoes.


If I could live without eating fresh tomatoes I would, but I can’t, I love the things, so my endless and often expensive quest continues, that is until hopefully one day a Dyson type figure passionately thinks about improving hot house grown tomatoes and does with the tomato what Dyson himself has done with the vacuum cleaner, making it possible to not just buy a pack of 4 tomatoes with just 1 tomato coming in first past the post, but to have all 4 tomatoes cross the finishing line at the same time – I shall live in hope!.  Until next week, keep well.


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