My-Reason-For-Living-In-France maintains that a peeled tomato changes everything, as a consequence I too own one of those peelers Marsi shows you below. I also peel the old-fashioned way: immerse tomato in boiling water, quickly remove, burn fingers, push off skin.
At this time two years ago, I was in the French Alps (in the town of Gap, center of the Hautes Alpesdepartment) visiting a college friend who’d moved to France in 1995. My friend is a fantastic cook and twice a day laid out an impressive spread of homemade delectables that rivaled anything I’ve had in restaurants in France.
My visit was at the height of tomato season, and every day we ate rough-chopped caprese salad: hyper-ripe tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and basil, dressed very simply with Provencal olive oil and a few pinches of fleur de sel.
First of all, the rough-chopped salad was a revelation to me. I’d always had a caprese when it was fussily sliced and arranged just so. I loved having the tomato and cheese chopped into bite-sized chunks. It seemed so … obvious.
The second revelation came when I helped my friend prepare lunch one afternoon and she proceeded to strip the couer de boeuf tomato — those gloriously heavy, heirloom tomatoes that fill your entire hand with their deep grooves and melt-in-your-bouche flesh — of its skin.
She said that the papery-thin skin of a tomato will ruin a dish with its sharp, bitter flavor and oddly tough texture. I’d never thought about it till that moment, but once she said so, again it seemed so … obvious.
After we enjoyed yet another of her glorious lunches, we repaired to the kitchenware store, where I doled out 15 euros forZyliss Soft Skin Peeler. It looks like your average vegetable peeler, but it features a blade with frighteningly sharp serrated edges. I thought I was so terribly clever for having scored this obscure European tool that would dazzle my dinner guests back home in Denver.
Back home a week later, I found the same thing at Whole Foods.
For nine bucks.
… oh ….
What can I say? Live and learn.
Anyway, it’s a fantastic tool. Get one.
And now, I hope you’ll indulge my nostalgia for my visit to the Alps with a few pictures I took in Prapic, a rather remote, miniscule Alpine village about the size of your fingernail. My friend’s mother (who was like a mother to me as well) passed away in 2006, and her ashes lie in repose in this beautiful valley she loved so much.
Across the narrow street from the inn is a farmhouse where all of the food — both plant and animal — is raised.
My friend’s mother loved La Jaboire’s rustic goodness so much that she painted it in her her charming naïf style.
What a wonderful talent she had for strengthening her travel memories by rendering them as works of art.
Sooo, anyway … to make a short story long, please buy yourself a tomato peeler and some of the season’s most glorious tomatoes, and get peeling. Bon appetit!