The other day I was talking to a lady who runs a bakery in my neighborhood. I was asking her about Bryan, her 13 year-old boy with autism. She is very excited with the progress he has been making in his new school, but she is even more proud of what she has accomplished with him at home. “He can get up and prepare his own breakfast, ” she said.
“Oh,” I commented. “And what have you taught him to cook?”
“You know, the essentials…eggs, toast, and how to peel a tomato…”
Now, I must tell you for Chileans it’s practically a sin to serve tomatoes with the skins on! There are lots of yummy tomatoes to be purchased, at half the price as in the USA, but there’s the tricky task of peeling them.
I learned from the matriarchs of my family that you do this by quickly dunking the tomatoes in boiling water and then slipping off the skin. Basically, we only did this for canning purposes. But this IS THE WAY to take the skin off a tomato. So, needless to say I was quite surprised when I began to observe the Chilean daily method for peeling tomatoes.
Apparently, any ole sharp knife will do. I’ve seen people weilding what could almost be called a machete around that small, red juicy fruit! So you start at the top and make a long, curly ribbon as you slip the knife around and around the luscious gem – kind of like we try to do with an orange, but it never quite works out. Then, you hold the tomato in the palm of your hand and make several cuts down into the flesh – hopefully not reaching the flesh of your hand! Next, you slice horizontally and the small chunks of tomato drop down onto your dish or pan, ready for use!
So, this week I decided to make my Grammie’s spaghetti sauce. I had a whole kilo of tomatoes on which to practice! It was not a pretty sight, but all the juices and chunks dropped directly into the pot for simmering. Fresh oregano and basil from my outdoor market completed the dreamy aroma that filled the house.
As the sauce simmered I pondered…had I never come to Chile I would never have known that you’re not supposed to eat tomato skins. Nor would have I learned the essential and true method to peel a tomato!
Notice the bandaid….ooo that stings when the tomato juice gets in!!