I picked up some gigantic, gnarly, Travelers tomatoes from the farmers market. I took pics of them to blog about, and made a delicious panzanella salad. Then my phone got stolen and the pics that told the story of 10,000 words, were gone forever. Regardless of the thievery, I still had something to say.
The ugly truth is…I don’t enjoy fresh tomatoes. Yes, I’m “one of those people.” I do not like them in a boat, I do not like them with a goat. I like ketchup, gravy and salsa, but not if the salsa tastes all tomatoey. I’m not special, there are many like me. We lurk in the shadows, making small piles of unwanted fruit/vegetable on the side of the plate. Our blood runs cold when we forget to hold the tomatoes on a burger or sandwich; as we know the taste will spread like wildfire to engulf everything it comes in contact with. Let me be clear; I can somewhat enjoy a tomato if two things happen. The tomato needs to be grown with the utmost care and knowledge (or in Greece), and, I have to brainwash myself. I must tell myself before, during and after mastication that, “I have never tasted this exotic fruit/vegetable before, this is a new adventure, and it WILL be delicious.” I developed this routine in Greece on my honeymoon. I knew if I was gonna like tomatoes, Greece would be the place and so would the honeymoon. I stopped being a wuss and started acting like I liked them. But honeymoons are easy…everything tastes amazing, you’re on your friggin’ honeymoon! But that’s a different blog.
I thought I had read the science behind this, but apparently not as my interwebz research came up empty. What was surprising during the research was the lack of the question. All matters of science were discussing the nutritional change a tomato goes through when heated but nothing about the taste difference. What is there or not there after they are cooked? Lycopene and glutamate levels are higher in cooked tomatoes and lycopenes molecular shape changes to something more absorbable. Maybe that changes the taste as well? I tend to think glutamate as well because of the vast difference between a salted and unsalted bite of tomato. The salt I think adds a missing link to the glutamate which then gives the taster a savory full bodied flavor. Like msg.