Heirloom Tomatoes

I was talking with a friend recently about valuing precious things. We were talking about relationships with the people we love. She said cultivating a relationship was like saving and nurturing a precious seed as if it were the only seed on earth and what you did determined the survival of this rare plant. Now, my friend is not a gardener- she was grasping for metaphors I could understand. This is a picture I do get because I am a collector of rare seeds.

What my friend didn’t know when she shared her plant wisdom was that I had just tracked down some heirloom tomatoes from a family that has been saving its seed for thirty years. I visited the garden of a man who grows all varieties of heirloom tomatoes, but the variety that he will pass on to his son and daughter is the variety passed to him from his father. His father had brought back the seed from his homeland Greece. These ugly, green mottled, pear shaped tomatoes have been sown, nurtured, watered, fussed over, harvested, savored, and the seed preserved each year for thirty years.

The taste really is exceptional and the color when you cut it open is a deep dark red- almost purple. This tomato also has the impressive lineage of being served at the French Laundry. At least, that was what was told to me. Thomas Keller had tasted the tomatoes in the home of my Greek acquaintance and so enjoyed the flavor that he took some to grow and serve at his restaurant.
So now, I have saved the seeds of these strange looking Greek tomatoes and will plant them in my garden next spring. Each time I enjoy a tomatoey bite I will be reminded to cherish the precious relationships given to me.

2 Responses to “Heirloom Tomatoes”
  1. Great meeting you in Portland –
    Beautiful picture!
    all the best-
    cindy shapton 🙂

  2. Jennifer says:

    I had a great time touring gardens with you! Can’t wait until the Garden Writer’s Association meeting in Raleigh next year. Your blog looks great….