November TomatoesSaturday, November 17, 2012
I was sometime around 1950 and I was 8 years old. It was the fourth of July and at the time the Philippines celebrated their independence from the US the day they got it, July 4, 1946.
The ministry occupied a branch of the US Embassy on Calle Florida, which also housed the often bombed Lincoln Library (a branch, secret to some, of the US Information Service, so the head librarian was also a spook).
We had been invited to the party because my grandmother worked as a stenographer at the ministry. Besides the very large pitcher of strange and very red juice which I soon became addicted to, there were some Filipino musicians who played some strange instruments. They were Hawaiian style electric guitars and the music, sung in Spanish, English and Tagalog was reminiscent of the melodic music of Hawaii.
I have enjoyed tomato juice since. In my four years at St. Ed’s High School in Austin, Texas, during the mid 50s I would go to our basement store, run by Brother Emmett Strohmeyer, C.S.C. and sometimes (when I had extra pocket money, not a frequent situation) I would buy a small can of Libby’s Tomato Juice and a little package of cheddar cheese crackers. I would sit in the nearby ping-pong room and savour the delightful juice.
I have never stopped my desire to drink tomato juice. There is always a large can of Heinz in the house but of late I have been enjoying V-8, the Smooth & Seasoned V-Go variety.
Rosemary does not like tomato juice or V-8 so I indulge in comfortable solitude. I may sprinkle my glass of juice with Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and a tad of pepper. If adventurous I might squeeze some lemon or lime and add some Tabasco.
Now there is something new in my tomato life. Today I made a batch of tomato juice from the many tomatoes that my daughter Ale brought us from Lillooet. We have been having tomato sandwiches, pasta with fresh tomato sauce, scrambled eggs over very darkly fried tomatoes and I have even spread the fried tomato mixture to make our pizza. There were many tomatoes still and they were beginning to over-ripen.
Making tomato juice is easy. You quarter them and throw them into a large pot. I added a couple of soup spoonfuls of sugar, and some kosher salt. I spiced it up with Lea & Perrins and chile flakes. After simmering for 30 minutes I used a ladle to fill (halfway) my blender. Here you must be careful as hot liquids shoot up. I keep the pouring section of the blender container covered with a kitchen towel. Once I have done this I press the mixture through a fine sifter. And you get pure and wonderful tomato juice. If you want you can add celery (complete with the leaves) parsley, red peppers and an onion.