Posted by Tony Ricci on 07/17 at 08:44 AM
We’re finally on the brink of the much anticipated tomato avalanche. Months of preparation and anxiety over late blight has brought us to the place we’ve been waiting for since last fall when frost finally took the patch to the great compost pile in the sky.
Ironically, this event almost always coincides with the great migration of central Pennsylvanians to a New Jersey beach, where, as everyone knows, tomatoes were invented by two down-and-out Italian brothers who couldn’t make it in the New York garment industry. At least that’s the history you learn when you grow up in Philadelphia, which may as well be part of South Jersey.
I remember the huckster who drove slowly through our neighborhood intoning a three note aria that was sure to make everyone salivate like Pavlov’s dog. “Jersey tomatoes here!” (Or in South Philadelphian: “Joisy tematas haaye!”) I actually grew up thinking tomatoes started with the prefix “ joisy”.
As kids we didn’t really care that much for the vegetable truck except to taunt the driver with echoes of his own refrain. We were waiting for the ice cream truck that came around like clockwork after our evening game of stick ball, or wall ball or half ball or some kind of ball made up of loose engine parts from somebody’s garage.
The real irony is that I wound up becoming that huckster, perhaps as cosmic retribution for my part in heckling the guy’s accent.
What we didn’t know back then is that we had exactly the same accent and none of us would find out until we moved from Philadelphia and asked for a glass of water at fancy restaurant, where the waitress would hesitate a moment before apologizing, “I don’t think we have that here.”
The native Philadelphian can get pretty testy when confronted with the possibility that their accent is incomprehensible, because we think we don’t have one. Our typical response is to up the ante to prove that our speech is the closest thing to the Queen’s English this side of the Atlantic. “I suppose you don’t have joisytematas on the menu either.” This is usually the point where the waitress calls over the maitre d’ to find out if anyone on the staff speaks Uzbek.
We’re pushing Fennel, Cabbage, and Micro Greens this week.
Author: Tony Ricci
Bio: Co-owner and operator of Green Heron Farm in southern Huntingdon County | Provides year-round supplies of local, organic vegetables (retail and wholesale) across central Pennsylvania
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