Thursday, 21 May, 2009


Tomatoes. I love them.
But this hasn't always been the case.
Take for example this nightmare I had when I was a kid. It wasn't a nightmare really, but a picture that played endlessly, over and over in my subconscious - or is it unconscious? - mind. It involved a chef wearing spotless chef's whites, a spotless chef's hat and an impossibly wide grin (imagine a slightly eerie version of Martin Yan, the host of the now sadly absent-from-Indian-TV cooking show Yan Can Cook), holding in one hand a humungous, all-purpose Chinese Chef's Knife...
...which moved slowly to and fro, slicing thinly an especially cheerful-looking specimen of the tomato family that oozed juice as the knife cut through its membranes, tissues and whatever else tomatoes contain. This description, I can sense, communicates none of the nameless dread that enveloped me then as I watched, unable to tear my eyes away, unaware that it was all just a dream.
At the time, I hated tomatoes. It wasn't the flavour - I didn't mind them pureed to within a micron of their lives - but the texture that so repulsed me and unfailingly brought forth the gag reflex as I accidentally ingested a piece that had somehow failed to lose all its structural integrity.
Suddenly, I don't know when exactly, I began to like tomatoes, in any form - raw, sliced thinly, thickly, diced into cubes tiny or chunky, carved expertly but unnecessarily into flower-like shapes. Even partially cooked, not entirely pureed tomatoes.
What I draw the line at is ketchup. Not ketchup per se - it's okay to dip the sharp end of a samosa or a point on the outer curve of a vada in a bit of ketchup - but the dousing, courtesy a red squeezy bottle, of such quantities of the ooze as to render the taste of whatever's being doused entirely negligible. Once, I even saw a friend of mine - heck, I sat next to him as he did the dastardly deed - draw squiggly patterns on a pizza with ketchup. How, I ask, did civilisation come to this?