I like tomatoes, I really do. I love their sharp sweetness, the way those little cherry tomatoes burst under the roof of my mouth. I love beef tomatoes, sliced thickly and layered with mozzarella or onion. I can't understand that people don't enjoy them. It's something to do with the texture, apparently.
For me, there's something about the deep red (or orange, or tiger-stripe) of tomato fruits that evoke summer; I can see the colour of the sky as I think about eating tomatoes outside. And there's something about the smell of tomatoes that transports me to my father's greenhouse in my childhood house, green fruit swelling on the plants; and to my own greenhouse, where the thick dark-green stalks with their downy covering exude that intense aroma.
But I can't and won't eat tomatoes when they're watery and tasteless. I asked my wife, not so long ago, if she remembered eating the last tomato she'd had, if she had tasted it. When she remembered eating one that she tasted.
After that, we agreed not to buy tomatoes out of season, from foreign shores. We've made the same agreement for asparagus and strawberries and all those other vegetables that it's possible to get year-round, but which taste best of all when they're in season, and grown locally (meaning they're picked and sold in short order, still fresh).
So last week I was pleased and surprised to find the local supermarket had tomatoes ostensibly grown in Britain. And they were tasty enough, even if they're doubtless grown with the help of lots of heated greenhouses rather than in the heat of the sun. A guilty pleasure at this time of year.
This week, they did not. Oh, they had tomatoes, from Spain and Holland, from Morocco and the Canary Islands. Too far afield. Too well-travelled. No tomatoes for me this week.
But they did also have Cox's apples and Conference pears, both from the UK. So this week I have no tomatoes, but I am knee-deep in apples and pears. The break from tomatoes will make them more special when they're available again. If I can wait for asparagus, I can wait for tomatoes. Especially when I've got apples and pears to console me.