[a medicinal cooking blog: using food as medicine to treat whatever may ail you]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tomato Time

I feel like I am about to write this post a few weeks too late for those that haven't been relishing in this season, in tomato season. Not that you can't eat tomatoes in the winter, as there are many a freshly canned (sans preservatives beyond salt) brand and given how we consume, you can find them all year round anyway - but they really don't taste as good as they do right now. They truly taste like the sun in the summer, without the mealiness of 100's of miles of transport and refrigeration. In any event, there are still a few weeks left of tomatoes in all their plump juicy glory and this isn't a post meant for chiding. Tomatoes taste really good now, that's all.

In Chinese Medicine tomatoes are considered thermally cooling (meaning if you're HOT, they will cool you - makes sense for summertime), they have a sweet and sour flavor, and they target the liver and stomach organs. There are many different takes on the actions of tomatoes in the context of these attributes, but I am borrowing from J. Kastner's description, "clears heat, enriches yin (especially liver yin), produces fluids and removes dryness, cools and cleans blood, strengthens stomach, promotes liver network activity". For those that are not TCM practitioners, you may be wondering what in the world does "promotes liver network activity" mean anyway?! Well, each organ system (liver, stomach, heart, etc) has it's own set of areas in the body it works on. The liver (as it pertains to TCM) manages the sinews and muscles, detoxification, anger management (or lack thereof), purification and holding of blood, and problems with it (the liver) manifest in the eyes and/or nails (you can have red eyes if you have "liver heat" or you can have brittle nails if you are blood deficient). This may be too much information, or maybe it'll help to relate to how medicinal eating and cooking comes about with these types of links.

Back to the tomato. Given it's still summer, you may be having some heat signs that either relate to the liver or stomach that can manifest as : red eyes, dry mouth, thirst, vertex headaches, general dryness, or even elevated blood pressure. A tomato can help! A few normal sized ones a day in fact. If you are having digestive issues with cold foods, then this isn't your food, avoid the tomato for now. Otherwise, indulge away!

Simple Tomato Salad We've All Had

Ingredients : cherry tomatoes, basil (I used African basil, but use what you like), buffalo mozzarella, shallot, aged balsamic, olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper, sea salt

1. Cut up the tomatoes and mozzarella. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mince at least half a shallot. Sprinkle the salt and pepper and you're done. Maybe you've had this, multiple times, but I'm putting it up here anyway. This can be served on a baguette with all the juices seeping and sopping into the bread if you like.

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