grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tomato Discrimination

When my sister brought my 7 year old nephew to Chicago for the first time a few years ago, we took him to this cool place where he could build his own remote controlled car then race it against other kid's cars on a track right there in the store.  When he was selecting the car he wanted to build and customize, he was really drawn to the more expensive, hot looking cars.  When I asked the sales guy what the differences were besides price and style, he said "these cheaper ones are faster.  And they last longer."  Still, my nephew went with the more expensive hot-rod.  He had a great time building and customizing the car but when it came time to race it, his lost.  It wasn't nearly fast enough to beat the other kid's cars.  He had a complete breakdown when we refused to buy him the other cheaper uglier car.  On the way home that night I was on the phone telling my husband about the whole ugly fast car versus pretty slow car debacle while my nephew sat pouting in the backseat of the car.

me: "I think there is a lesson for him to learn here"
husband: "Always pick the ugly girl!"

When I give tomatoes away to friends, I always give them the prettiest ones and keep the ugly ones for myself.  If you have ever grown tomatoes, you know that even the ones with ugly craters can be eaten.  You just cut around the flaws.  The damage is almost never beneath the skin.  Still, my vanity spills over into my tomatoes and prevents me from sharing the ugly ones.  Before I started gardening, my friend B used to bring homegrown tomatoes to work and leave them in the break room for us to take.  Even though I love tomatoes, I almost never took them because they were not flawless and somehow I assumed that meant they could be on the verge of rotting or maybe even diseased.  At that time, my only frame of reference was grocery store tomatoes, but now that I've grown my own, I know that's just what happens to homegrown tomatoes.  B's tomatoes looked just like mine do now.  I wish I had taken some.  I'm sure they were delicious.

Cafe Baba Reba's Show Me Your Tomatoes! contest is tomorrow morning.  I'm competing for Tastiest but I'm agonizing over which tomato to enter.  I've got one tomato I grew from seed which is the same variety that I won this contest with last year, but the top is ugly and scabby looking.  If you flip this thing over, it is the most beautiful shade of deep purplish red you've ever seen.  It is tender to the touch which lets me know it's juicy as hell, too.  And then there's the other tomato.  A hybrid I also grew from seed which is producing tons of beautiful flawless red tomatoes.  They remind me of the ones you buy at the grocery, except these are much more flavorful.  Although I know that appearance is not judged in the Tastiest category, I can't help but think of how embarrassing it'll be to set my ugly scabby tomato up on the table where other contestants and guests will be staring it. Talking to their friends about it before the judging starts.  It's not just me.  My neighbor isn't entering because all hers look similar. 

I thought my husband's "always pick the ugly girl" comment was harsh, but I get his point.  There are costs in limiting yourself to only pretty girls and pretty cars.  In the case of the ugly tomato, it really is what's inside that counts.  And though I know this, I am still struggling.  Ugly, or pretty.


  1. A nicer way to put it is "Go before show."

    Good luck with the tomato competition!

  2. LOL, I've always liked ugly tomatoes, but I'm a bit of a freak. Aren't tomatoes usually sliced for people to try? So you can't really see the whole shape? At least that's how our tomato tasting rolls. So for tastiest, I'd focus on taste. But I'm so literal, lol!

  3. I like what your husband said. Go with that! good luck in the contest!

  4. Love your blog! I have lots of ugly tomatoes in my garden right now, too! They still taste good though!

  5. I would take a tasty, ugly tomato any day, over a beautiful bland one. :-)

    I am happy to see you are still blogging! I have been AWOL from my blog most of the summer, but with the cooler temps and rain, I am finding my way around again.