There are a few stark differences between residing in Britain and living in Spain; the language isn’t the same; the summer in Spain is guaranteed (so much so that you could probably return your holiday to the Spanish government if it rained for more than a day); and the fresh produce is far cheaper, yet far better. To be fair that final point is tantamount to a sweeping generalisation, but unless one is actively willing to seek out superb tomatoes, fruits and vegetables in Britain one is likely to be disappointed. However, in Spain it is difficult not to stumble upon magnificent beef tomatoes the way they ought to be – large, colourful and ever so slightly cracked or split. To me there is little doubt that the reason behind this is the preposterous idea the supermarkets have that only food that looks and feels good is worthy of their shelves, despite the fact that these often haven’t finished growing or ripening. I say we do away with the waste and welcome what may not be considered first class produce into our supermarkets.
If there’s one thing we don’t see enough of in British supermarkets it’s local produce. Granted, my local supermarket stock beautiful cuts of Welsh beef and lamb, but apart from a smattering of fruit during the summer and a little veg during the winter everything is imported. I realise there are counter arguments to this, like the fact some ingredients have to be imported because they aren’t produced in Britain in meaningful quantities. But when a small corner shop in a tiny village in Spain, run by a happy-go-lucky woman with a blue fringe sells better tomatoes than anything found in Britain, there may well be something to worry about.
I suspect there is a danger that this post may have descended into an unbridled rant, so I shall leave it there – one ought not to attempt to pilfer Jamie Oliver’s principle hobby. Instead, it may be appropriate at this juncture to sing the praises of this fabulous mode of eating juicy beef tomatoes, or indeed any tomato. There could be nothing simpler than this “recipe” – one need only drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper – yet very few things are as delightfully effective. The seasoning, when applied liberally, brings out the flavour of the fruit exceptionally well – very rarely have I enjoyed a tomato quite as much as I did on this occasion. One characteristic I particularly enjoyed about this salad was the fact it showcased the tomatoes completely – it wasn’t trying to compete with anything, a situation in which the fresh tomato is at its glorious best. Please enjoy this little taste of Spain, one that shall find its way onto my table for years to come.
(If any of you were interested to see a few Spanish wedding photos, please head here)
Spanish Beef Tomatoes
Serves 4-6 alongside a main, or bread
• 4 beef tomatoes
• Lashings of extra virgin olive oil
• Generous pinches of both salt and pepper
1. Quarter each tomato and place it on a serving plate. Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle over the salt and pepper. The more Spanish one is inclined to be, the more salt needs to be added – they love their salt.
Cost: Over here beef tomatoes are fairly expensive, but they are entirely worth it, if one can find the right specimen. Indeed, this plate of food might set one back as much as £2.20, whereas in Spain it would cost one little over half… perhaps less.