Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The unlikely hero of an Italian summer

The unlikely hero of an Italian summer
What makes you think of summer? Ice cream? Trips to the beach? A BBQ and cold beer? For many Italians, summer has a very simple icon – tomatoes. A staple of so many Italian dishes, tomatoes are in season during the Italian summer, when they’re reddest, ripest and at their most delicious.
So while most people want to spend time relaxing or heading off on vacation during the summer months, Italians with a serious love of home-made food, traditionally have something else to focus on – making the most of this years’ tomato crop and the best passata di pomodori humanly possible. In the rural areas especially, it’s serious business. Plan it well and months of condiments, sauces, purees and recipe ingredients can be creatively made from the season’s tomato crop.
So common is the rush to maximize tomato-based produce that other things often suffer, from leisure-time to other household chores. Across Italy in summer the expression “I’m doing the tomatoes” is widely understood and accepted as a valid excuse to get out of any other commitments. After all, what’s a few days of intensive cooking and spending your day covered in bright red tomato stains, when you get to enjoy so many great Italian recipes from the results?