Tuesday 24 August 2010

Tomato time in Italy

Bel fidanzato and I were washing the car down at one of the country properties earlier when his mother turned up asking if we wanted to come and help pick some tomatoes. September is tomato season in Italy and everyone, and I mean everyone who has a bit of dirt is busy collecting their tomatoes and getting ready for bottling them.

(Since I had intended only to wash the car I did not have the camera with me.) We set off down the road to our future home which is where all the tomatoes lay. We had to walk down, away from the house (which is roofless at the moment as the very slow workmen are in the process of putting on a new roof) past the chickens, past the grape vines heavy with slow ripening grapes, around the large, square well (which looks like a small swimming pool) past the massive, enormous pumpkins which are currently dark green - and there, across from the bright red and green capsicums were rows and rows of fat, juicy, mostly bright red tomatoes.

It was hot, boiling hot even though it was 5 o'clock in the afternoon. I was dressed for car washing (singlet, shorts and thongs) not for tomato picking. The two old "farmers" were already there, a.k.a the husband and wife who used to live in this very house, and to this day still cultivate the land. We have them to thank for the abundant supplies of vegetables we receive! They of course are old hands at picking everything that grows so were dressed accordingly (like they stepped out of an old painting) with small, straw hats, long pants, old flannel shirts opened a little to let in a bit of air, and the most handy item: an apron that is also used to hold the tomatoes while you are waiting for bel fidanzato to return with empty buckets. 

I have never picked tomatoes in my life! It is not at all hard once you get used to breaking them off without snapping the entire plant in half. The plants are tall and over burdened with tomatoes so that it is difficult to get the ones in the middle. You should have seen the size of these things! There were 2 varieties (don't ask me which) and some where the size of a cantaloupe. 

Saturday we are going to the other country property to begin the bottling process (which I have never done) so I will take the camera with me and fill you in.


Katja said...

The best, BEST thing about picking fresh tomatoes is that delicious smell. It's something that just can't be recreated and I love it. Tomatoes warm from the vine - oh, my mouth is watering right now ... :)

Anonymous said...

e' una bellissima esperienza raccogliere pomodori, fare della conserva/passata e mangiare con un piatto di pasta il frutto di questo lavoro. non c'รจ nessun sugo di pomodoro comprato al supermercato che eguagli il gusto della passata di pomodoro fatta in casa. buon divertimento e soprattutto buon appetito :-) Giorgio

Gil said...

Now I am drooling over the thought of eating a tomato right off the vine. I'm off to see the lady we buy tomatoes from later in the day!!!

LindyLouMac said...

I do enjoy reading about you youngsters having all these new but old fashioned experiences! We no longer bottle but just freeze our surplus tomato pulp. Have fun and do go and read Cathy's post over on her blog.
I think your bottling will be on a larger scale and most likely done outside, having seen it done in the past.
I will look forward to reading all about it and seeing the photos.

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Hi Katja,
You are right, the smell of freshly vine picked tomatoes is unbeatable.

Ciao Giorgio,
E' veramente una bella esperienza. Non vedo l'ora di fare la passata!

Hi Gil,
Hope you got yourself some delicious tomatoes from the lady.

Hi LindyLouMac,
I guess it is kind of funny that so many of us are experiencing old traditions whilst living here. I love it!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I find it amazing that you have never picked a tomato up until now ... have you never grown them?