I never really liked tomatoes until I was 32 years old, moved down to Georgia and ate my first exquisitely ripe tomato. It was there in a funky roadside produce stand that I discovered the beauty of a flavorful tomato; loaded with character and aroma.
The owner of the market, Jimmy was a rotund man straight out of the Dukes of Hazards; bushy mustache and all. He was a true southern character and he knew his tomatoes. From about April through October Jimmy stocked reliably delicious tomatoes, sourced in the early spring from Florida, moving northward as the summer came and went, ending finally with tomatoes from New Jersey in the fall.
One week in the very end of October I went in to Jimmy’s produce stand and asked to buy 20 pounds of ripe tomatoes. He looked at me like I was truly crazy and said, ‘Lady, what you gonna do with 20 POUNDS a ‘maters?’ I told him that I was going to make sauce and freeze it for the coming winter. He shook his head and mumbled, ‘Yankees…’ and walked into the shed behind his produce shack. He chuckled as he sold me a box heavy with tomatoes.
Since moving away from Georgia seven years ago I have never had tomatoes as good. Not even when we vacation down in South Carolina—there was just something about those 'maters from Jimmy’s broken down produce stand that tasted so good.