Tomato Love Poetry

Sonnet #43, Kitchen Style

Tomato-basil salad with dots of goat cheese. (Kim O'Donnel)

How do I love thee, tomato? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and might
My palate can reach, when remembering out of sight
Your peak month of August, when you bear fruits of juicy Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most urgent need for a BLT, by sun or moon-light.
I love thee with abandon, as Venus might her Mars or Vulcan
I love thee purely, as surely as the summer wanes
I love thee with the passion of my appetite
Above all fruits, and with my childhood's eye of Jersey tomatoes
As if they were falling from the sky.
I love thee with a hunger I seemed to lose
With my lost innocence (and the icky mealy tomatoes of January)! I love thee with the smell,
Unlike no other in the garden, and your vine-ripened sweetness
That bring me smiles, tears, only at this time of year! -- and if the farmer's choose
I shall but love thee better after many bowls of gazpacho.

Think Elizabeth Barrett Browning would approve? Share your tomato love poetry (or favorite ways to eat tomatoes) in the comments area below.

By Kim ODonnel |  August 7, 2006; 9:31 AM ET Seasonal Produce
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August is the cruellest month, breeding tomatoes out of the green land, mixing hunger with desire, stirring my stomach with red globes filled with the sun's rays.

Posted by: T.S. Eliot | August 7, 2006 9:47 AM

I don't know who wrote it, but there is a folk song with the refrain, "There's just two things that money can't buy, and that's true love and home-grown tomatoes." Great song, I think of it every year at this time while waiting for the tomatoes to ripen.

Posted by: Midwest | August 7, 2006 10:54 AM

Tymato, Tymato, burning bright,
In my garden of the night;
What horrid squirrel or skunk
Is nibbling out little chunks?

Posted by: Bill Blake | August 7, 2006 12:59 PM

Plain old tomato sandwiches .... love 'em and couldn't get through August without them. Dad used to plant a huge garden to feed 4 hungry kids, but could have fed an army with what he planted. We'd often grab a salt shaker and head down to the garden and eat tomatoes warm off the vines.

To make a tomato sandwich, take some fresh ripe tomatoes, preferably warm from the sun or at least room temperature. Get two slices of plain white bread -- no whole wheat or sour dough. Just plain white politically incorrect bread. Smear each slice of bread with mayonnaise. Slice the tomatoes onto one slice of bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with the other slice of bread. Cut in half and enjoy. Add your own favorite toppings, like slices of bacon, or dill pickle slices, or bread and butter pickles, or a slice of American cheese. But the main ingredients for the purist are white bread, mayonnaise, tomatoes, salt and pepper. We used to grow tomatoes so big that only one slice of tomato would cover one slice of bread, so we could make at least 4 sandwiches from one tomato. Goes well with a tall glass of iced tea.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | August 7, 2006 3:08 PM

The tomato sandwich that So.Md. is referring to should be eaten over the kitchen sink and the juice should drip down your arms. I prefer to use Miracle Whip, myself.


Posted by: Patty | August 7, 2006 3:49 PM

Not exactly poetry, but this song lept to mind when thinking of tomato rhyme!

(P.S. - I learned to make pico de gallo by listening to this song!)

Lyrics to the song, "Pico de Gallo" by the band Trout Fishing in America

Written by Emily Kaitz & Marilyn Cain

Pico de gallo, you oughta give it a try-o
Even if you're from Ohio, it'll get you by-o.
Don't get it in your eye-o unless you want to cry-o
So come on, don't be shy-o, eat some pico de gallo!

It's got jalapenos, I reckon y'all have seen those.
They're kinda hot for gringos and probably flamingos.
Just add some tomatillos, onions and cilantro,
Lime juice and tomato, you got pico de gallo!


It was Cinco de Mayo, and I was down on the bayou
With my good friend Venus de Milo,
We were watchin' Hawaii Five-O
She wanted some French fry-o's, or maybe apple pie-o
And I said why, oh, why-o? We got pico de gallo!

Pico de gallo, you oughta give it a try-o
Even if you're from Ontari-i-o, it'll get you by-o.
Don't get it in your eye-o unless you want to cry-o
So come on, don't be shy-o, eat some pico de gallo!
So come on, don't be shy-o, eat some pico de gallo!

Posted by: TFIA Fan | August 7, 2006 4:34 PM

Making fried green tomatoes tonight, with some grilled halibut in a salad (latter idea courtesy of the Penzey's catalog). Had a few green-getting-pink tomatoes fall of the vines last night when I was staking the tomato plants and contending with damage from the *&^%$ squirrel who thinks he owns the place.

Rather than get mad about it and lose the summer joy, I am going to sizzle 'em in a little buttermilk-and-bread crumb coating. Will be my fiance's first go with these, and he is looking forward to it.

Tomorrow night: BLT's with the first HUGE ripe "Amana Orange" from the heirloom plant.

Good livin'!

Posted by: Heart Gardens | August 7, 2006 5:56 PM

Along the lines of the perfect tomato sandwhich I actually toast the bread - it makes a great contrast between the runny tomato and the bread! (oh, and I use wheat bread because it tastes more earthy...)

Posted by: AddE | August 8, 2006 9:52 AM

I love drinking blended tomato with a piece of raw onion. It's simple, spicy and sweet! And some fresh basil leaves, a handful of mesclun greens and a red radish with a couple of liquid aminos or a pinch of sea salt can be added for a change. A red bell pepper works well when blended with a tomato too, but the blended raw red tomato- with a piece of raw onion combo is my favorite. Put the tomato in first because it blends to a liquid and you don't even need to add water. It's smooth and delicious!

Posted by: Marcia Hershkowitz | August 8, 2006 10:40 AM

I have some sad news to report. I was under the impression that tomato plants were "poisonous" and impervious to everything but catepillars. Not so. The deer just came through and ate every tomato, red or green, and every tomato leaf so I now have several rows of "tomato sticks". Anyone have a recipe?

Posted by: Bud | August 8, 2006 11:18 AM

Bud, I suppose that a requiem is in order... Are there are any musicians in the house?

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | August 8, 2006 11:32 AM

How about cold delicious tomato soup? I got this recipe years ago from Food and Wine and it's still a favorite.
You may want to do this in batches since there's only so much tomato puree that will fit in a food processor without leaking out.
Cut up fresh tomatoes into large chunks and put them into a food processor - no need to seed or skin them, you'll be straining out the solids later.
Turn on the processor and puree ... while the machine is still on drizzle in some balsamic vinegar, olive oil and put in some salt. I stopped measuring years ago, so do this to taste.
Strain out the solids, taste, adjust seasoning if necessary and chill.
Serve very cold with chopped basil and a drizzle of garlic-black pepper-infused olive oil (you can make this and let it sit around at room temp for a couple of hours while the soup chills).
mmm, mmm, good!

Posted by: | August 8, 2006 1:15 PM

Bud: Couple of ideas for deer repellent. Deer are skittish around humans, so any scent that reminds them of humans will act as a repellent. Try hanging bars of Lifebouy soap around your garden, or lay them between the rows of plants.
Another idea is to spray your plants with a bad-tasting liquid. After a couple nibbles, the deer will go somewhere else for dinner. Two mixtures I found on a deer repellent site are:

#1: In a blender combine one egg, 1 cup of milk (skim or whole, doesn't matter), 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to make the mix stick to your plants, 1 tablespoon of liquid soap, 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Blend and then add to a big jar with 1 quart of water. Spray this mixture on your plants for a couple days. Rain washes it off, so spray after a rain storm. Repeat spraying every couple days until deer get the message.

#2: In a gallon jug, combine 1/2 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon cooking oil, 1 tablespoon of liquid soap, and 3 cloves of garlic. Add enough water to fill the jug. Let it sit a day or two, then spray this mixture on your plants every couple days.

The strong smells and bitter taste of the soap should keep deer away. Good luck.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | August 8, 2006 1:53 PM

One of my new favorite ways to enjoy tomatoes right now is to make this simple sauce for angel hair pasta. Cut a large beefsteak-type tomato in half. Placing the cut side down, run the first half over a box grater (be sure the grater is over a bowl). When you're done, you'll essentially be left with the empty skin in your hands and a bowl of tomato puree. Take the second tomato half, cut it in half, and run one of the resulting quarters over the box grater as before. Rough chop the second quarter into chunks and set aside. Finely chop a clove or two of garlic. Heat some olive oil in a saute pan, and gently saute the garlic. Add your tomato puree, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 3 minutes. Just before taking off the heat, add the remaining rough chopped tomato and chopped fresh basil. Pour over cooked angel hair pasta, toss to coat the pasta, and then garnish with grated parmesan cheese. I've most recently done this with purple Cherokee tomatoes, and it was to die for--light, fresh, and bursting with tomato flavor.

Posted by: AML | August 8, 2006 5:16 PM

When I was in Cordoba, Spain, I ate salmorejo, a cold tomato soup that they pretty much only make there. It's just tomatoes ( 4 big ones-- peeled and cored), olive oil, some crusty dry bread (2-4 slices, depending on how thick you want it), and a few cloves of garlic in the blender. Add salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and serve with chopped hard-boiled egg and jamon serrano on top.

Also, my mom makes an amazing tomato sandwich-- split an entire loaf of Italian bread, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, layer with slices of tomato, red onion, chopped basil, fresh mozzarella, salt and pepper and cut into sections.

Posted by: Arlington | August 8, 2006 8:28 PM

I love Cordoba style gaspacho.

But this week I'll be making eggplant, zucchini, and tomato casserole. You cut rounds of eggplant, brush with olive oil, pre-cook for ten minutes at 400 on a baking sheet. Then layer them, sliced tomatoes, and lengthwise zucchini into a baking dish (cover the bottom in EVOO and herbs de provance). Drizzle the whole thing with a little more EVOO and some herbs, bake for a while, then add an au gratin topping.

Oh, and I like baked tomatoes (Stuffed or unstuffed) too.

Least favorite tomato dish? Tomato aspic. Blech.

Posted by: Rita | August 15, 2006 1:25 PM

this year i goofed and planted all sweet hundreds and millions. so i put a nice coating of mayo (best foods here) and line up 20 or so little ones on the bread. a little cold sweet iceberg lettuce, salt and pepper, i like any soft and fresh bread, and yum. what a mess my t shirt is covered. the tomatoes are so sweet and it reminds me of my mom.

Posted by: mary | August 19, 2006 4:48 PM

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