Mitchell column: Don’t worry, real tomatoes will be just fine
By Tucker Mitchell
It’s not just the humidity this week, it’s the heat. People are acting crazy, animals are going berserk (four dog bite reports in Huntersville alone) and all kinds of strange things are happening.
And, of course the phone is ringing off the hook! Let’s get right to the calls.
The tomatoes have been poisoned! We’re all going to die. Isn’t this a tragedy?
Depends on if you’re talking about the tomatoes or dying. The tomato part ó the Center for Disease Control announced a salmonella scare involving tomatoes last week ó is not a tragedy because it appears that all the killer tomatoes came from stores or were eaten in restaurants.
What in the world are you doing eating a tomato in a restaurant or buying one at a store? Those aren’t real tomatoes. The only place you can get a real tomato is from a friend, a relative, a roadside stand, a farmer’s market or your own garden.
One of the possible culprits in the scare is the world’s most-sued restaurant, McDonald’s (“over 6 billion served … with summons”). That’s terrible, especially for McDonald’s stockholders, but the truth is, if you order something at McDonald’s with a tomato on it ó a light pink, cardboard-flavored tomato ó you deserve to get sick. When at McDonald’s, stick to the kind of tomatoes Ronald knows best.
They’re called ketchup.
– – –
So this summer’s crop of delicious, homegrown tomatoes is going to come in on time and unpoisoned?
Yes. The official tomato season kickoff around here has been scheduled for July 9. Lay in your stock of Duke’s mayonnaise and table salt now. From that point through the end of August, you can eat ‘mater sandwiches and/or slices twice a day, every day, and not go wrong. It’s a healthy diet if you limit the mayo layer to one-half-inch or less per sandwich. And the acid in real live, home-grown tomatoes will melt salmonella and other germs like cheap chocolate candy in the back seat of a mini-van.
Better still, through the wonders of biochemistry, that same bacteria-scalding acid is fine for the stomach and esophagus!
(Editor’s note: The science in this column has not been verified and may be subject to later recantation.)
By ‘mater sandwich, you mean that famous late 19th-century delicacy, the BLT, right?
BLTs are good, but the true ‘mater sandwich is white bread, mayo and tomatoes. Salt to taste.
By the way, food historians (who knew they even existed?) disagree as to the origin of the BLT. It probably descended from the “club sandwich,” made by cavemen using their traditional clubs.
(Editor’s note: the history in this column has not been verified and may be subject to later recantation.)
– – –
I guess it’s a good thing we’ve got tomato sandwiches nearby. With the price of gas so high, we’re just going to have to sit around home and eat cheap all summer anyway. Say, are you smiling?
Possibly. If I am, it’s because I’m driving around with cheap gas in my tank. Coming back from the mountains last weekend, we cleverly, if somewhat accidentally, passed through a small corner of South Carolina and sucked up some cheap fuel from the sandlapper state. It cost just $3.68 per gallon. Man, I’m telling you, it was like going back in time … to early May.
Wow! That’s cheap enough to make it worth your while to drive to S.C. for gas!
Whoa! Cut back on your octane there, super chief. That may sound like a good idea, but the math doesn’t work out. Assuming a 20-gallon purchase, the $3.68 gas saves you about 30 cents per gallon vs. the price ($3.98 or so) at most north Mecklenburg-area gas stations as this is being written (subject to change every 30 minutes). Thirty cents times 20 gallons equals $6 in savings. That would buy a gallon-and-a-half of gas. At 20 miles per gallon, you could drive 30 miles on that. So, if you can get to South Carolina and back in 30 miles, it’s a good idea. Or, more to the point, if you could get to this particular, $3.68-per-gallon station in 30 miles or fewer it would be a good idea.
But you can’t, so there.
– – –
Yeah? Well, you’re going to run out of cheap S.C. gas pretty soon and then you’ll be right back in internal combustion hell with the rest of us, paying $4 a gallon or more.
Quit whining. It could be worse. Diesel costs $9 a gallon in Spain, where truck drivers are blockading the major cities and preventing critical items like fuel, food and castanets from making their way to retailers.
Of course, it could also be better.
Well, maybe. Gas in Iran is only about a buck a gallon. But, you have to put on a veil and make that ulalalalala sound before they’ll let you buy any.
– – –
Tucker Mitchell is publisher of The Herald. Contact him at 704-766-2100 or tmitchell@ huntersvilleherald.com.