I know what this country needs …

Published 9:02 am Thursday, July 25, 2019

It’s that time of year again to pay homage to one of the most versatile vegetables – or fruits, we’ll get to that later –  that most folks grow in their backyard gardens.

I’m talking about the homegrown tomato. Expect to see some quotes from the late Guy Clark here, one of my favorite songwriters who wrote a not-so tongue-in-cheek tribute to the homegrown tomato.

“Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes. What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes. Only two things that money can’t buy. That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

What’s your favorite way to eat a homegrown tomato?

Many would say a classic tomato sandwich, square white bread, plenty of Duke’s mayo, pepper, salt and thick slices of freshly picked, ripe tomatoes. That’s what I grew up eating, minus the Duke’s. My wife’s a Duke’s fan, and I like it, too, but growing up, I really don’t remember what brand of mayo we used, or even if we were loyal to a certain brand.

And being the semi-health conscious person I’ve grown to be, I now use wheat bread. That healthinesss probably goes out the window because I use more mayo when using that bread on a tomato sandwich. It has to be soggy or nearly soggy by the time the sandwich is finished. You have to hunch over a plate because if the juices aren’t running out from the sandwich, you did something wrong.

Yes, I’ve eaten dozens of tomato sandwiches already. That doesn’t count the BLTs, or the bacon and tomato sandwiches, or sausage and tomato sandwiches, or the cucumber and tomato sandwiches. Breakfast nowadays is an egg sandwich with you guessed it, a slice of homegrown tomato. We’ve had tomato and onyun salads, salads with the tomatoes, and just plain sliced tomatoes as a side dish. We’ve even had tomato pie, but that’s one I don’t like. It’s more about texture than flavor, but I can’t bring myself to try it.

“Put ‘em in a salad, put ‘em in a stew. You can make your very own to-mah-toe juice. Eat ‘em with eggs and eat ‘em with gravy. Eat ‘em with beans, pinto or navy. Put ‘em on the side. Put ‘em in the middle. Put a homegrown tomato on a hotcake griddle.”

You get the picture. A homegrown tomato is a gift from above. There’s nothing worse when eating out in the winter, and the sandwich, an otherwise great sandwich, comes with a slice of tomato that not only has zero flavor, but has the texture of a piece of cardboard. Come one restaurants, if you can’t get a decent tomato, leave it off. Not only are most of those off-season tomatoes overpriced, they’re no good. Dew Drop Farms in Davie County grows them hyrdoponically, and they’re good. Not homegrown good, but a reasonable substitute.

“If I could change this life that I lead. I’d be Johnny Tomato Seed. ‘Cause I know what this country needs. Homegrown tomatoes in every yard you see. When I die, don’t bury me. In a box, in a cemetery. Out in the garden would be much better. I could be pushin’ up homegrown tomatoes.”

Thanks, Guy. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

– Mike Barnhardt