TOMATES - TOMATOES
& COOKING ARTICLE
is common knowledge that the tomato originated in the
New World and was brought to Europe by the early Spanish
explorers1. It is also common knowledge that
for much of its early existence in Europe, the tomato
was considered poisonous and was used only as an ornamental
plant2. What may not be as well known is
how pervasive the tomato is in modern times in French
tomato, tomate in French, first came to Provence
from Italy in the last half of the Eighteenth century.
It was a group of Provençales who introduced
Paris to the tomato on July 14, 1790 as part of an early
celebration of the new republic.
tomates en grappe at an outdoor market in the Loire
early planting of some of the hundreds of varieties
of tomatoes grown at the Château de la Bourdaisiere.
cookbooks show tomatoes being cooked, primarily for
sauces or stuffed with other ingredients4.
Soups and vegetable casseroles, gratins, make up the
next most common uses of the tomato in French cooking.
Today, tomatoes are often consumed raw in salads and
the tomatoes available in French markets can be divided
into six general categories based on size and shape,
most of the tomatoes Ive been exposed to in France
are en grappe, tomatoes sold as a cluster, still
attached by their stems to a small section of branch.
With a size of about eight centimeters in diameter,
they seem to be ideal for many dishes. Other categories
of fresh tomatoes available include tomates côtelée
(ribbed tomatoes), tomates ronde (round tomatoes),
tomates cocktail (cocktail tomatoes, similar
to tomates grappes except smaller), tomates
cerise (cherry tomatoes), and tomates allongée
(plum tomatoes)5. At the Château de
la Bourdaisiere near Montlouis in the Loire Valley,
they are attempting to gather as many of the worlds
varieties of tomatoes as possible. So far the curators
have collected over 500 different varieties that they
plant each year in their garden6.
a per capita consumption of 10 to 15 kilos per year,
tomatoes are the number one fresh vegetable consumed
in France7. Maybe, thats why tomatoes
seem to have a ubiquitous presence in modern cookbooks
and cooking magazines. It is difficult to find a magazine
that doesnt have at least one recipe using tomatoes,
and many have a handful. The same is true with cookbooks.
Unless the subject would explicitly exclude tomato products,
such as a book on pâtisserie, it is hard to find
a cookbook that doesnt have at least one recipe
featuring tomatoes and many have quite a few. There
are even a few cookbooks that feature tomatoes in every
selecting the tomato recipes that I would test for possible
inclusion in this article, I strayed from my usual method.
Normally, I would go through my entire library listing
all the possible recipes and then select a balanced
variety to test. For this article, I grabbed a couple
of books off the shelf and just started selecting a
recipe or two from each to try. There would have been
too many recipes to select from if I went through all
most common type of recipe I found were those for some
form of a cooked tomato sauce. I decided to use an early
one from the first half of the nineteenth century by
Marie-Antoine Carême, sauce tomate, as
representative of the whole group. Two other recipes
create a sauce as part of their creation: moules
au basilic et à la tomate and chipirons
aux tomates. Ive also included the ultimate,
modern, all-purpose tomato sauce: ketchup maison.
The next most common type of recipe seems to be those
for stuffed tomatoes. An 1867 recipe, tomates farcies,
for a tomato stuffed with mushrooms was chosen as representative
of traditional recipes. Tomates farcies à la
tomate and soufflé aux tomates et avocats are
modern stuffed-tomato recipes, the latter being suitable
as an entrée rather than as a side dish (garniture)
like the former.
other, modern ubiquitous tomato recipe seems to be for
tomato tarts. An entire article could easily be written
based on the various versions for tomato tarts I found.
I settled on tarte à la tomate et moutarde because
of its simple preparation and its ability to bring out
the flavor of the tomatoes.
side-dish recipes in this article include tian aux
et courgette; clafoutis aux tomates cerises;
and tomates au tapioca. The recipes below that
are suitable as entrées, or even for brunch menus,
include pipérade; salade de tomates,
poulet et gingembre; salade de tomates à
la tapenade; and tartare de tomates mozzarella.
There are two soup recipes, both cold: soupe façon
gaspacho and soupe de tomates fraîches
au pistou. Theres also one dessert recipe:
verre de tomates au Muscat.
addition to these new recipes, there are an additional
fourteen or so tomato recipes already listed in the
recipe index of the à
la carte site.
Although together, these make a nice little selection
of tomato recipes, it would be easy to pick a few hundred
Say Tomayto, You Say Tomahto . . . Online at Tomato
History. Cited 13 July 2004.
Online at DiWine
Taste. Cited 13 July 2004.
votre assiette : la tomate. Online at e-sante.fr.
In French. Cited 13 July 2004.
Carême, Lart de la cuisine française
au dix-neuvième siécle, 1833. In
chaque tomate ses plaisirs. Online at Tomates
de France. In French. Cited 11 July 2004.
domaine dun Prince curieux. Brochure from
Château de la Bourdaisiere. Obtained 30 May
2004. In French.
bataille du goût - La tomate. Online at
TV France5. Cited 13 July 2004. In French.
other tomato recipes follow the link below to Peter
Hertzmann's web site.
article comes from the web site of Peter Hertzmann,
la carte. This is one of the finest web sites I have
most of us are keen amateurs who love to dabble, Peter
is truly dedicated to the pursuit of his interest
in and love of cooking. If his web site was to be
published as a book I would be first in line to buy
is à la carte about? This is best described
in Peter's own words:
obsessive. All my life, when something interested
me, I became obsessed with it. I learned all I could
about it. I lived it! .
. . Ive been obsessive about food as long as
I can remember. I am now obsessive with French cookery
- its preparation, materials, history, politics, and
learn more why not visit the à la carte web
site - click
Peter Hertzmann Inc, 2004
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