Ode to the Southern tomato

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Are you from the South?

There are a lot of things in the South that make us Southern, or “good ol’ boys.” We will not even go into the moonshine era.

In the South, we love just about every teeny weeny part of the hog — up, down and sideways; we nearly worship the chicken, and know exactly what to traditionally do with the tomato. That delicious girl from the garden is simply bred to be sliced, and slapped ’tween two slices of loaf bread.

The result? It gets you close to where you eventually want to be: Heaven.

Still, you have to add salt and pepper to taste, and the finishing ingredient, mayonnaise.

Some folks like a certain brand of mayo and others like another. A heated discussion could result from which is best. My choice is Dukes, and any other brand to me ain’t fittin’.

This grand girl from the garden — and nowadays from the patio — also offers options. She can be sliced or quartered and eased into a bowl of salt and peppered vinegar with a few slices of cucumbers. It is certainly a staple on the kitchen table of any respected Southern gal.

Think about it.

There are endless uses for the tomato, and a lot of what we do with it today comes from the Italians. Its origin can be traced back to the early Aztecs around 700 A.D.

It is believed the tomato is native to the Americas.

Sources say the tomato was not even introduced to the Europeans until the 16th century. Early on, it was considered by the English as beautiful, but poisonous.

In the early days, it was eaten only by the poor until around the 1800’s when the Italians reaped its benefits, ones we still see worldwide today. In the U.S., it became a kitchen vegetable in the days preceding the Civil War.

Since those early days, the tomato has become a staple of the Southern kitchen.

Today, Americans enjoy more than 12 million tons annually. It is the highlight of the grocery store produce areas, grown in millions of backyard gardens, and often considered as a fixture in kitchen windows to ripen it up for two slices of bread.

Salt, black pepper, Dukes mayonnaise, two slices of fresh bread and a sliced tomato can take you down memory lane.

If you know about the tomato and the hog then you are from the South.

Well, I wish I was in the land….

William Holloman is a staff writer for the Mount Olive Tribune.

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