The Farm Stories
Written by Nick Tudor
Bread and Tomatoes
“No hay nada mas largo que un dia sin pan” …
“There’s nothing so long as a day without bread”, said Eugenio as he broke open his daily loaf to accompany breakfast of a fresh picked rosy beef tomato and a strip of very streaky home-cured bacon, known as tocino and a staple in these piggy hills. Few teeth meant the crust went to the small black dog sat at his feet in the shade of the olive tree in the vegetable garden.
The well tended garden was irrigated by a stream that flowed down one side. An ingenious series of schoolboy dams ensured that each neat row was fed water whenever it was needed. We kept our seed from year to year carefully drying it out from selected fruit, a long established custom from before the days of F1 Hybrids! We had been swapping seed with Eugenio for years, and had our own do it yourself plant breeders conservation society.
Our tomatoes were exceptional and failed every EEC directive. Huge round misshapen fruit, pink rather than red and wonderfully sweet, the acidity leavened by long summer days. We had been picking the rows in the cool of the early morning and now were breakfasting. Violetta stood, grumpily, between the shafts of the cart waiting to pull it up the hill to our kitchen patio where all work seems to take place in late summer as the harvests come in.
Tomatoes we bottled – a surprisingly easy way of ensuring a year round supply. From Antonio, the owner of our local bar, we collected over time a couple of hundred or so empty fruit juice bottles with a screwtop – the sort that go pop when you open them. The equivalent would be Kilner jars, prettier but much more expensive.
Then standing in the shade of the parra, the grape vine that grew over the kitchen courtyard, we gossiped as we peeled the tomatoes. Hermione and MariLuz were the peelers while my job was lowly bottle stuffer, cutting the tomatoes into chunks that would fit into the bottles, filling them to the top and screwing on the lid. Luis meanwhile would light the fire under the old oil drum that served as our bain-marie.
The drum held about 40 bottles at a time and once the water was boiling he would put them in for 10 minutes. In a couple of mornings the four of us would have a years supply of bottled tomatoes on the shelves above the kitchen. Every now and again there is a fizzing sound as one bottle didn’t quite get “bainmaried” enough. Then there is a rush to find it before it explodes and covers the kitchen in fermented tomato juice…happens every year!
At lunchtime we all sit down to enjoy variations on the humble tomato. The humblest and the best of which is a dish made from fresh pink beef tomatoes and stale bread. Don’t be surprised by the amount of bread needed to get the creamy texture, it’s the filler that every good peasant farmer needs –
“There’s nothing so long as a day without bread”.
Salmorejo. Like a thick creamy gazpacho For 6 people.
- 1 kg stale white cottage-loaf type bread
- 1/8 litre (small yoghourt pot) of good olive oil
- 1 kg of RIPE tomatoes
- couple of teeth of garlic
- 3 or 4 dessert spoons of wine vinegar
- Salt to taste
- Diced hardboiled eggs and bits of jamon serrano as garnish
- Wet the bread and cut into small pieces and peel the tomatoes.
- Combine all the ingredients and put into a blender until they have become creamy, sometimes takes 10 mins, depends on the bread.
- Spoon into bowls and add the garnish.