Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pomodoro Passion - San Marzano Hunting in Lavorate di Sarno (Sa)

Karen, guarda qui... Look over here...

Those were the words of Lorenzo Montoro as he accompanied me on my recent trip to Montoroerbe in Lavorate di Sarno.  I was back 2 weeks after my first visit trying to satisfy my San Marzano tomato infatuation that has been increasing at a baffling rate since my first visit.  The more I learn, the more I love...
So maybe that is why I didn't notice the heat as I explored the tomato garden that had changed dramatically since my previous visit.

We can't harvest yet, Dario Montoro told me.  We just sprayed the plants with copper.  We'll harvest in a couple of weeks he said with a smile.
A couple of weeks with the hope that this incredible heatwave that has hit Italy will ease up just a bit.

I strolled the the farm with Lorenzo, Dario, and their father, Giuseppe Montoro.  And as I did, I thought back to what I have learned lately...

The San Marzano tomato is one of the popular ones for many chefs in Campania and beyond, primarily due to its meaty flesh and particularly full fantastic flavor.  It has gone through several mutations over the years, but when you find one that is original and packed with power like the ones the Montoro family produces, it is hard to turn back.

It isn't an easy tomato to cultivate.  It requires a lot of manual labor - for example, as these photos show, the tomato vines grow pretty high.  Usually three rows high.  These seem like simple photos of women in the field but they are not.  These photos, sent to me  by chef Lorenzo Montoro show his mom, la Signora Corona along with Signora Carmela-Dario Montoro's mother in law working. Here, as lorenzo wrote me,  lei si occupa di legare le piante di san Marzano un operazione indispensabile e particolare perché in questa operazione , si pratica anche la "sfemminatura " cioè di tolgono a mano dalle Piantine i ramoscelli che sono in esubero.
that is, she is tying the San Marzano tomato plants to poles, an indispensable and particular operation. at the same time, she is also completing a task known as 'sfemminatura' which means that she is getting rid of all the excess twigs. everything is performed by hand.

The tomatoes ripen in different periods. Three rows, mean three different tomato harvests, beginning with the bottom rows which ripen first.  

So as we strolled, the chef pointed out the tomatoes that were piu belle...more beautiful than the others, red and almost ready...

But to me they were all beautiful.  For this girl who grew up in the suburbs, exploring a tomato garden and stopping to observe every little inch of the vines was exciting. mesmerizing...captivating. 

Allora, Karen...Torni quando raccogliamo i pomodori? Will you come back when we harvest the tomatoes?

Dario Montoro only had to ask me once...
Actually, he didn't even need to ask.  
Date saved.
Pomodoro Passion to be continued...  

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