The tomato and me

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I HAVE never understood why I have this problem when it comes to eating or preparing tomatoes.

It’s as if they possess some weird alien intelligence whose mission it is to make me look bad in the eyes of the Princess.

A tomato is not even sure of its own identity. It is a fruit if you happen to be a botanist, but definitely veg if you are the chief cook of the household like me.

What I do know is that it’s a treacherous beast and it came as no surprise to learn that the tomato is a member of the deadly nightshade family.

They seem to be waiting for me wherever I go and no matter what precautions I take, they ambush me when I am least expecting it, blitzing my clothes.

The problem is I love tomatoes; whether they be part of a Greek salad, a bolognese sauce or simply on toast, but when my eagle-eyed lady gets a hint that I am about to indulge once more, I receive the dreaded Medusa look.

It has been known for me to be seated in a restaurant with a napkin tucked into the top of my shirt; another wedged into my waistband and newspaper draped over both legs, before the Princess will allow me to take one bite of a tomato based dish.

It’s embarrassing. And pointless, because invariably I will find that once I have been unwrapped there are blobs of tomato on my shoes (white ones of course) or in my hair.

I thought I couldn’t go wrong by eating those little bite sized cherry jobs, but no, although I pop one in my mouth and seal my lips tight shut, as soon as I bite down the juice finds the smallest of gaps and spurts out under pressure down my shirt front.

My last encounter was with a chilli con carne at a local eatery where, because my dear lady was absent, disaster was inevitable.

Cutting into a chunky chip with the edge of my fork, one half of the potato leapt into the air, did a double back flip and taking a dollop of tomato rich sauce with it, hit me in the chest and dropped onto my lap.

My white, newly pressed linen shorts-clad lap. I was pondering this yesterday as I absently pulled the aluminium ring on a tin of sardines.

The lid came away like a coiled spring and showered my shirt with a deadly mixture of fish oil and the inevitable tomato sauce.

That stain will never shift, so I have quietly disposed of the garment in the bin and hope that my beloved will not notice its passing.

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