Welcome ladies and gentleman to the main event of the week! In the category of Culinary Boxing here at Chef’s Mandala, we have weighing in at 4 ounces from Campania, Italy, please welcome San Marzano tomatoes! His opponent, weighing in at half an ounce from a remote southern island, please welcome Sicilian cherry tomatoes!
LET’S GET READY TO RRRRR…….HAVE A SPIRITED DEBATE ON FOOD!!!
In the Red Corner – CAMPANIA SAN MARZANO
Today’s champion is no stranger to growing up under tough conditions. In 79 A.D. a volcanic explosion destroyed a large part of his neighborhood and the nearby cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Since then volcanic soil there has been famous for yielding delicious San Marzano tomatoes. Our champ has trained in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius through eruption after eruption (over 50 times)! However copycats of this nightshade fruit grow crops in California using the same seeds (minus the volcanic soil scattered with the ashes of Pompeii). The Italian version is sweeter and less acidic then other tomatoes, making him perfect for sauces. And in Italy nothing is more holy then pasta (the Pope comes in at a close second). Critics complain though that this fighter isn’t that important. Chefs often add sweeteners and acid as they cook a sauce.
In the Blue Corner – SICILIAN CHERRY TOMATOES
From beautiful Sicily comes today’s challenger, cherry tomatoes! His natural sweetness comes from the ocean salt water mixing with the island’s fresh water. As the plants draw upon this underground reservoir, the slightly higher salt content helps to create the legendary flavor of these tomatoes! Like the champ San Marzano, ripe Sicilian cherry tomatoes have a natural sugar content of around 3% to 4%. Today elderly nonnas (grandmothers) spend their Sundays watching the T.V. show “Mela Verde” and filling empty beer bottles with their favorite sauce. This tradition dates back to after 1945 when Sicily was devastated from the war. Natives would collect empty beer bottles discarded the night before by Allied military forces. These little old ladies would clean and then bottle home-made sauces to give to their sons and daughters. Today’s challenger hopes to honor the history and traditions of his home town by kicking San Marzano’s ass!
- The Play-By-Play
The cockiness that San Marzano shows in the beginning of the fight doesn’t win him any fans. His Sicilian opponent’s grim determination sheds blow after blow as he drills in multiple body shots to San Marzano’s mid-section. How many crunches and Russian twists does it take to build up this kind of stamina?
AND THE WINNER IS….
In a surprise upset, Sicilian cherry tomatoes win the day! Unlike their more popular opponent, Sicilian products are not yet subject to the same high levels of demand. Concerns about authenticity aren’t yet a problem, though rumor has it that Turkey is slowly producing cherry tomato crops similar in quality at a fraction of the price.