Close to Nowhere
I think tomato sandwiches were about the only thing not offered in the “tomato testing” held in Ripley, Tenn., last Friday.
The tasty luncheon was held in the activity building of the First Baptist Church, and sponsored by the Lauderdale County Chamber of Commerce, with a whole lot of help from the Lauderdale County Association for Family and Community Education.
The first tomato tasting was held in August, 1994 and the 25th anniversary was a great time for us Mississippians to drift across the state line and enjoy some smashing tomato dishes!
Marion Pryor, Mere, Remy and I headed out early Friday to meet Marion’s sister Susan for the tomato tasting. After a cruise through the assorted FCE members’ sale tables (I bought a really cute tomato pin) we were ushered into the dining room and royally treated!
The very first dish we were offered was fried green tomatoes! Thin, light, crispy and delicious – and they wouldn’t give me the entire platter!
There was a nice assortment of tomato dishes. Some that I’d never have tried in a million years. Really! Cake made with tomato soup – come on, who’s gonna eat that? Remy barely allowed me a bit of mine. She loved it, as did the rest of us at our table.
There were salsas and main dishes and yes, the aforementioned desserts. Marion and I were really impressed with the mock mincemeat and the tomato peach chutney!
Mere’s favorite was far and away the sloppy joes and Remy discovered that fried green tomatoes were as good as J.B.’s fried pickles!
There was such a smorgasbord! Tennessee cornbread salad, watermelon tomato salad (which was great!), slaws, casseroles (including a scrumptious baked green tomato dish), and an appetizer – garlic creamies – that was to die for!
And yes, Marion and I both bought the cookbook!
Did you know the Ripley tomato is about as famous as the Vidalia onion? Vidalias can only be called Vidalias if they’re grown in the Vidalia, Ga. area – I think something like a 50-mile radius. The Ripley tomato is grown in the acid soils of Lauderdale County. And did you know the tomato is a fruit?
After lunch, we drove over to the Ripley park, which is similar to our fairgrounds, where there were vendors and rides. Reminded me of our Kudzu Festival! Marion bought some craft items, Mere didn’t buy anything (she’s not really my granddaughter!) and Remy got an assortment of flea market “stuff.”
Remy and I both bought tomato T-shirts and I got Dana a tomato plate for her birthday (Happy 40th!).
We had a really good day. And Saturday, running errands for Pop and visiting Booker Hardware and the few farmers at our brand new farmer’s market just topped it off. I’ve eaten cantaloupe for several days. Since I didn’t drive by there until nearly noon, there were no green tomatoes or squash left.
That was also OK. I went by the Campbells’ vegetable stand and bought green tomatoes, red tomatoes and peaches.
Despite the horrendous heat there is a reason to love summer! Fruits and veggies make 100 degree temps almost bearable!
I promise this is good!
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