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Memories and Musings: Tomato tango 

By Gene Gallelli 

Screeching brakes and blaring horns informed me that I had wandered too far into the intersection. However, I had an excuse: It was April and the tomato-and-herb starter plants were being rapidly stacked on racks outside the corner hardware store. 

Immediately, visions of tomato sandwiches and Caprese salads danced in my head like sugar plums in a well-known Christmas poem. The first slathered in mayonnaise on both slices of bread, the second featuring garden tomatoes covered in fresh-picked basil, mozzarella cheese and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. (I rationalized that between the unhealthy mayo and healthy olive oil, things would balance out and I would survive.) 

But first, there were many things to buy and large pots to clean. 

Off we raced, my daughter and I, to the hardware store in search of Big Boy, Better Boy, Oh Boy, Plum, Cherry, and Heirloom tomatoes. Then, we grabbed sweet pepper, hot pepper, hotter pepper, basil, rosemary plants, and one unknown plant that had pretty flowers. 

We bought them all, along with six huge sacks of potting soil, two boxes of plant fertilizer, bug spray and myriad stakes and accessories. 

By now my mouth was watering over dreams of tomato sandwiches and everything else that included tomatoes. I looked up, rubbing my hands together like an evil miser, and selfishly thought of all the money I would save on tomatoes, peppers and herbs. 

Then, with bravado, and everything we purchased piled on the back deck, I exclaimed, “Let the planting begin!” 

I huffed and puffed planting two tomatoes in the Earth Box I had purchased years ago—after reading the directions, of course. I then observed my daughter struggle to plant in large pots the remaining 12 tomatoes, two basil plants, and the rosemary and oregano plants in smaller pots that I had to run back and purchase. 

I was exhausted! 

Dinner that night was a Tuscan bean soup, with added Italian sausage and small-shell pasta, sided with a store-bought kinda tomato, sorta tomato, almost tomato, and lettuce salad. 

As I slurped the thick soup, I couldn’t stop dreaming of that huge, home-grown tomato sandwich with a white blanket of mayonnaise slathered on both slices of bread. With simultaneous sighs, my daughter and I finished the soup and began eating the almost-tomato and lettuce salad. 

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