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Groundwork: I Say Tomahto, She Says Tomayto

Amy Goldman joins Adrian Higgins at the Ripley Center next Tuesday. (Sandi Fellman -- Bloomsbury)

The Love Apple, better known as the tomato, will be celebrated next Tuesday evening at the Smithsonian when yours truly has a conversation with Amy Goldman about America's favorite veggie/fruit/berry -- you know what it is. Amy is author of "The Heirloom Tomato," a book that delivers this fruit in all its delicious (dare we say luscious?) bounty.

If you think Brandywine is the only heirloom variety, has Amy got news for you. She grew 1,000 heirloom varieties over five years at her farm in Upstate New York. I visited her on three occasions during this grand experiment for a story and video in the Home section, and let me tell you, what Amy doesn't know about rare and common varieties of tomato and how to grow them isn't worth knowing.

The book? Well, I think it does for tomatoes what the Westminster Kennel Club achieves for pedigreed dogs, presenting them fully groomed and in delightful contrast.

The smallest tomato that Amy grew is called Alberto Shatters. The berries are about the size of currants, so small that, as she writes, "it freaks the old girl out." It's called Shatters because the fruit, when ripe, goes flying off the vine in all directions. A useful trait for dispersing one's seeds, but tricky for the cook to harvest. It's worth the effort, though; the tomato is crunchy and pleasingly acidic.

Amy and I will be talking about this and many other amazing varieties of antique tomatoes at the Ripley Center lecture hall, 1100 Jefferson Dr. SW. The program, "From Garden to Table: Eccentric Tomatoes and Heirloom Seeds," starts at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 5. The Smithsonian Associates is giving a members' discount (tickets $15 as opposed to $25 general admission) to callers who mention this blog. Call 202-633-3030. Amy will follow the program with a book signing.

-- Adrian Higgins

By Adrian Higgins  |  April 30, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Groundwork  | Tags: Adrian Higgins, gardening  
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