There is nothing more perfect, more heady, or more aromatic than the smell of the leaves of a tomato plant. I can often be found out in the garden rubbing my hands along the tops of the tomato plants and taking deep breaths, hoping to inhale as much of the grassy, herbal, mineral scent as I can. I've been known to rub tomato leaves on my wrists and walk around all day sniffing myself as if I had just gotten a sample of Chanel No. 5. Tomato plants smell that good to me.
While surveying our lands last week, J and I noticed the first of our grape tomatoes turning red.
We had to exercise the utmost in restraint to not rip the almost-perfectly-red beauties off of their vines and gobble them down on the spot. No, the first tomatoes would be the most perfect tomatoes. We would wait...(not so) patiently...wait...until the tomatoes were absolutely perfectly wonderfully red and ripe and ready to be devoured.
That day came last Sunday.
The photo doesn't do these two little gems justice. They were vibrant red, plump, just firm, and warm from the sun. J and I couldn't even wait to get the kosher salt out of the kitchen. We tapped tomatoes (you know, like clinking glasses) and popped our little rubied fruits into our mouths.
Nothing beats the taste of the first real tomato of the season. especially when it is eaten outside, straight off of the vine, and still sun-kissed. It was rich - slightly acidic but very earthy. This bite always has me regretting every bullet-proof hothouse tomato I suffered through during the winter and spring. This singular bite of tomato perfection has me swearing off tomatoes between the months of October and July (a promise, I admit, I am too weak-willed to keep). This perfectly juicy-sweet-musky taste of sun, soil, and fragrant tomato leaf is one I'd like to freeze in time and bottle. No other taste of tomato comes close to it. I will eat tomato after tomato after tomato this summer. I will subsist on tomato sandwiches for days at a time. I will cook them into sauces and soups. I will toss them into salads. I will stuff them into tacos and falafels and salad wraps. I will eat so many tomatoes that I will not want to touch another tomato (until the urge returns sometime around January or so). Not one bite of any of those many tomatoes will be as perfect as that first bite, in the yard, next to J, feeling the sunshine on my face and smelling the scent of my tomato plants.
I'll need to get over it, because I've got a garden full of tomatoes starting to grow and ripen.