Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Heirloom tomato fritters (Ντόπιες ντομάτες - Ντοματοκεφτέδες)

Andrew from Very Good Taste lists 100 food items that he thinks “every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life.” I'm not really a fan of memes (although I love themes), but I did find Lulu's and Kat's comments interesting on which food they have tried, and which they would never try. Andrew explains how he made up the list, which has proved immensely popular amongst food-bloggers. It is a challenge to find most of the listed food items in my area: for instance, crocodile, scotch bonnet pepper and fugu would have to be imported, and I doubt that there would be a huge market for them anyway. Some of the items on the list are simply too expensive for most people's pockets: I don't drink whisky, which is widely available all over the world, so I don't think I'll be dying to taste malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more, which is on the list.

With a little artistic licence, most of the items on Andrew's list can be replaced by another local food item, in my case, Hania, of course; in other words, the same list can be made up with food items found in a different form in other parts of the world. Andrew freely admits that his ilist contains more curry and alcohol than necessary because of his origins (he's English), making the list non-definitive. Some of the items on the list are actually cooked meals, which can also be made at home using local ingredients and a good recipe, for example huevos rancheros and borscht.

One of the items on Andrew's list was heirloom tomatoes. Here's what one of the local varieties of non-hybrid tomato grown locally in Hania (in our garden) looks like.

heirloom tomatoes hania chaniaheirloom tomato hania chania

We were given the seeds for this tomato from a neighbour who has been growing these tomatos for many years, and always collects seed from his previous crop before it dries up at the end of summer. This tomato has a pear shape, and is usually quite green near the narrow part where the stem is attached, even when fully ripened. For this reason, I usually slice off that little bit and discard it before using them in salads and all manner of tomato sauces. They tend to be softer than regular hybrid tomatoes, which is why I prefer to pick them when they are small. They smell heavenly, a sure sign that they are an old local variety of tomato. Another disadvantage of their appearance is that, as they grow larger on the tree, they create dark grooves on their skin, starting from the stem part. That's just the way they were born; we don't like many things about our own appearance, and we don't have the power to change that, either. It is mainly for this reason that I use these tomato in sauces and salsas, while we grow other varieties that are preferable in a salad.

heirloom tomato hania chania

Tomato fritters can be made with eggs or cheese or both, or completely vegan, which is what I prefer of my fritters. They are also a perfect dish for using our variety of heirloom tomato, and Nancy has an excellent recipe for lenten tomato fritters (tomatokeftedes, in Greek) on her website.

tomato fritters

I served these fabulous fritters when I invited some friends over for dinner. As I love to show off my garden produce in cooked form, I made snail stew, vegetarian lasagne, baba ganoush and kalitsounia (Cretan pasties) with vlita (amaranth) to serve with them, coupled with walnut pie (karidopita) for dessert. It was a truly grand feast!

This is my entry for Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Ulrike from Kuchenlatein.

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