Endless Summer: Do Diners Tire of Tomatoes and Other Seasonal Ingredients?

I was dining with a good friend recently, and as we looked over the menu, I noted that there was an heirloom tomato salad on it that I must try. I usually attempt to order something different than my tablemates, so I asked if he were interested in it. “No,” he said, “You get it. If I see another heirloom tomato, I’m going to throw up. I’m sick of them.” Mon dieu! I’d never imagined anyone could tire of fresh summer tomatoes — let alone be sickened by the thought of them.

You see, I’m a tomato junkie. I always order them when dining out. I even grow them. During the high season, I eat tomatoes every single day! To me, they are the best of summer’s bounty. Their aroma is as intoxicating as the sweet-acidity that packs every bite! And not only do they taste good, they are stunningly gorgeous. Okay, so, you get where I’m coming from: I’ve NEVER seen a tomato dish on a summer menu that doesn’t draw me in like a chocoholic to Ghirardelli Square. Still, I will consider that it’s possible that some diners get tired of the ubiquitousness of ingredients during a season’s denouement. After all, I have had chefs tell me part of the fun of seasonal cooking is that the ingredients start to shift just as their interest in them wanes.

So, tell me, diners, do you tire of any ingredients during certain seasons? Do spring ramps make you want to spring forward to summer? Do you get sick of sweet summer corn? Do squash blossoms drive you bonkers at some point? Share your thoughts in our comments section.


  1. says

    Well hello, @opentable, thanks for asking me (@tomatofest) for my thoughts via Twitter. As you might guess by my “handle”, I am an ardent supporter of the heirloom tomato. The deliciousness of an heirloom, grown in the proper climate, in soil that has been tended with as much care as compost, and served with a filet of extra virg….

    Enough pomposity, here is the simple truth: In Chicago we have such a short period when we can access the best of the best that I never tire of heirloom tomatoes. Our season is roughly Aug 1 to Sept 30 for outdoor heirlooms. That’s 2 months or less than 17% of the year. Over the course of two months, how many times will I go out to eat? Let’s say three times a week? Call it four times to be generous. That means I’ll have a chance to eat local heirlooms at the height of ripeness in a restaurant just thirty two times out of the year. With 83% of the year dedicated to whatever a local chef might have canned, dried or preserved, I don’t have time to be bored or sick of heirlooms, and if you are, I suggest trying a new restaurant!

    (Of course, I eat pounds of tomatoes from the garden I keep with my family as well. Chicago TomatoFest started when we relaized that even we could not eat the fruit from the 40 od varietes we planted. For the origins of the event, please take a listen to this interview http://vocalo.org/explore/content/47877. It’s from a few years ago and I sound a bit like a lunatic, in my opinion, but it was the height of the season and I could not contain myself).

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