Beijing, 28 February 2013
Chinese food is great. No doubt about it. But tomatoes don’t figure very highly in Chinese cooking. In all those banquets I’ve been invited to, I’ve seen a few tomato slices swimming in soups and sauces, I’ve been offered a dish which seems to consist of scrambled eggs drowned in weak tomato sauce, and that’s it. Except for one more thing. Almost uniformly, at the end of the banquets, they insist on serving cherry tomatoes with the fruit! Of course, from a biological point of view they are correct, but everyone knows that tomatoes are a vegetable! I mean, the US Supreme Court decided so, in 1893, in the case Nix v. Hedden. And if the US Supreme Court has decided so, who are we to disagree?
Yet here I am again, faced with a plate of fruit on which sit a number of cherry tomatoes. As I moodily spear at the damned things, my thoughts float off to another place, to another country, where the tomato reigns supreme, cooking-wise.
I dream of pizza, the simplest kind, pizza margherita. Just tomato sauce and mozzarella, with a basil leaf or two, no more.
I will accept a few more toppings, in a pizza quattro stagioni for instance. But I quite disapprove of a certain tendency to pour on the toppings. Keep it simple! Because the beauty of pizza is the marriage of the tomato sauce
with the mozzarella
And not just any mozzarella. Mozzarella di bufala, mozzarella from the Italian buffalo, found only in the south of Italy
I keep on spearing my cherry tomatoes …
I dream of spaghetti al pomodoro
Or of penne al ragù
Or farfalle, or maccheroni, or tortiglioni, or conchiglie, or orecchiette …
I begin to sweat.
I dream of meats and fish in tomato-based sauces. Ossobuco
Pollo alla cacciatora
I viciously stab the last cherry tomato on my plate.
It’s time for the final toast. We shake hands all around, we offer each other our gifts, and I head for the car.
Maybe I can persuade my wife to make me a small plate of spaghetti al pomodoro when I get home …
Pizza Margherita: http://www.epocaedesign.it/filealbum/349_1.jpg
Passata di pomodoro: http://static.multipino.pl/photoOffer/p/438910_p.jpg
Mozzarella di bufala: http://www.lucianopignataro.it/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/mozzarella-di-buafala.jpg
Spaghetti al pomodoro: http://www.pearlcafe.com.vn/menupic/SpaghettI%20chay.jpg
Penne al ragù: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2765/4032992954_fd9232b230.jpg
Pollo alla cacciatora: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-p_oIFRg7524/TkJE2h9eAjI/AAAAAAAAHPQ/ZdU5k1OMVl0/s1600/DSCN6153-.jpg