“Knowledge is knowing a Tomato is a fruit and wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” —Miles Kington
On Sunday, my wife Cecile and I attended the much anticipated first-ever Heirloom Tomato Harvest Festival Celebration in the downtown square of Los Gatos. A few things immediately caught our attention. The Blue Grass Band, Dirty Cello with cross over Cellist Rebecca Roudman got the jubilant crowd’s feet stomping and heart pumping (photo). The colorful three tiered display of 241 types of tomatoes were so stunning they could have passed for works of art at a museum (photo).
Our good friend and former mayor of Monte Sereno, Mark Brodsky volunteered to set up the most ripe varieties of tomatoes before the start of the event (photo) for the judge to review. Christina Conlon, 32, an American born judge represented the British-owned Guinness World Records organization stationed in Philadelphia (photo). She was wearing a navy blue blazer, gray slacks and button-down white dress shirt, reminiscent of the colors of my school uniform at St. Michael’s High School I attended in New Jersey. Then there was the ever colorful and cheerful president of the World Tomato Society, Helen Pastorino (photo) who said she never dreamed that this event would get such a wonderful turnout and support from the community. There was a volunteer ice cream server giving out free sample sized cups of Tomato Saffron ice cream from his refrigerated cart prepared by Treatbot Ice Cream in San Jose that Helen encouraged us to try. It was surprisingly tasty. Even the cute and cuddly one month old tiny chihuahua named Peanut, wrapped in a pink blanket next it’s doting owner liked it (photo). The adorable pup licked my fingers clean of dried ice cream drippings when I went over to say hello to him.
But, as cute and cuddly as Peanut was, it was Conlon, the judge from Guinness who had garnered much of the attention. After a careful count of these prized jewel-like tomatoes, the former bankruptcy attorney determined that a new world record for the most variety of tomatoes had been set at 241, right here in our beloved village of Los Gatos, CA, handily beating the previous record of 135 set in 2015 in New York’s Time Square.
While thinking about the fun time we had at the Heirloom Tomato Harvest Festival yesterday afternoon, our doorbell rang. It was our next door neighbor Howard Green who generously offered us several pounds of fresh tomatoes from the community garden at Rinconada Hills that many residents participate in. He had no idea that there was a tomato fest in town. For us the joyful coincidence didn’t go unnoticed. The fresh tomato aroma was “to die for,” as Cecile would say. We happened to have two fresh packages of linguini in the fridge and Cecile decided to make a homemade sauce from an inspired recipe from my late Zia (aunt) Cettina from Sicily. Thanks to Howard, my late aunt and Cecile, it was Heavenly Pasta Night at the Augustine's home.
When I was a kid my now, 100 year old dad would ask: “Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?” I was used to him quizzing me on trivia questions. “A vegetable, of course, dad,” I answered. “No, it’s a fruit,” he would say. At the time I had neither the interest nor curiosity to verify if what he said was true. It was many years later that I discovered it was a fruit. Science Bob says the way to know is to inquire if it has seeds. “If the answer is yes,” he said, “then technically, (botanically) you have a fruit.” Dad was right—again