This week we've been eating sun-ripened Okanagan beefsteak tomatoes. In late summer they are plentiful and cheap, bought with mud still clinging to them from the fields.
Field-ripened peppers are available at this season too, and go well in the fresh tomato soup I love to make at this time of year.
Of course, the best use of these seasonal tomatoes is fresh and raw in salads. Some are cracked or funny-shaped, but for flavour and texture, no hothouse tomato, no matter how smooth and regular, can touch these sun-ripened delights.
Tomatoes have and interesting history. The Latin name, Lycopersicon esculentum, translatable as wolf-peach, was given because this fruit (or call it a vegetable, if you must) was once considered poisonous.
According to Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, the English word tomato is derived from the Spanish tomate, which comes in turn from tomatl, in the Nahuatl or Aztec language.
It is said that Cortez brought tomato seeds back to Europe from the Americas in the early 1500s. However, at first tomatoes were used for ornamental purposes only. The plant belongs to the deadly nightshade family, and the fruit was considered unsafe to eat.
On the other hand, the French have been known to refer to tomatoes as pommes d'amour, due to their supposed aphrodisiac quality.