You say tomato I say “tomahto” either way it’s time to jar!

You say tomato I say “tomahto” either way it’s time to jar!

It is August 8, 2011 and hot and humid in East Boston. It seems that every year around this time when my family gets together for the annual tomato jarring its ALWAYS hot and humid. So I made it up to my parents’ home for the tomato jarring and brought my camera to capture the moments. Although they say it’s an excuse not to get my hands dirty! Looking at the scene in my parents backyard, it reminded be a little of the I Love Lucy show when they formed an assembly line in the chocolate factory. The process at the house was not so fast but it was just as comical. My parents, Uncle Domenic, a few of their close friends Nicola and Mirella, Anna and Nicola and my mother in law Norma each had their job.
Washing, cutting, and boiling were the first steps. The second step involved putting the tomatoes through the pressing machine. On one end smooth bright red liquid would pour down the spout and on the other end the peels and seeds would spit out which would eventually end up as more compost for the garden. The last steps are to pour the sauce into jars with a sprig of fresh basil just picked from the garden and tightened. Then placed in the storage area designed specifically for the tomato sauce.
Some would wonder why would you go through all this trouble to preserve your own sauce? In today’s world convenience is everything. Time is time. Sure most of those involved are retired but they kept this tradition going since they set foot on this land over 40 years ago, even while working and with small children running around. This among other traditions that I wil touch upon are not only about food, it’s about family. It’s about spending time with your family and friends while appreciating our fruits of the earth. It’s about laughing and sharing. Ironically today would be the day that my grandmother passed 11 years ago. She along with my grandfather and my Aunt Teresa were always front and center in the process. Today my family is moving forward while preserving historic traditions.
I caught the conversations going back and forth, starting with my families Calabrese dialect, to my mother in law’s Avellinese, to their friend’s dialect from Frosinone. It didn’t matter what they spoke and how it was said, they just understood each other.
I called a friend of mine who suggested I post this and told him about the day. I said I want to write a few things that they did and said, but would it be offensive to the outside world who didn’t grow up this way? While telling him the stories he laughed. The response I expected. He said, “That’s what family is all about. Things are said and done and you get over it or just laugh at it. It’s expected.” He is right. This is my world. I understand it and I value it. I am taking their skills and talents and using my skills to put it out there. Old World meets new. I tried to explain to my mother about this blog and she just shakes her head and says just write it. At one point she would have gingerly yelled at me for not helping but I explain that I am, in my own way. What I am doing will preserve things for another hundred years if not more. Sure, someday I will get my hands dirty and hopefully teach my children these traditions. I hope you check out my blog often and learn.
It takes time. It take effort. It takes patience. And it tastes Good!
As for those stories about the day, well, I’ll save those for another day


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8 thoughts on “You say tomato I say “tomahto” either way it’s time to jar!

  1. N- Big August 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm Reply

    like this…..

  2. Maria August 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm Reply

    Jarred tomatoes are a definate must…. Thanks for sharing!

  3. […] Like every year, my family got together to make some fine tomato sauce. It is a tradition my parents have brought with them from Italy. Read more about what goes into making the sauce on my blog: everyonewantstobeitalian. […]

  4. Michele Connors (@MichConnors) August 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm Reply

    Ciao, Lisa, great blog! What part of Calabria is your family from? I am a Bostonian about to move back to Boston with my new Calabrian husband. He is from Ciro’. He wants to know where you got the machine that squishes the tomatoes? We were thinking of eventually bringing one from Italy, are they available in the States?

    • everyonewantstobeitalian August 8, 2011 at 11:59 pm Reply

      Thank you Michele! My family comes from Reggio Calabria (Marina di Gioiosa Ionica). As for the machine there is a place in Woburn. I will found out the name of the place and let you know. Thanks for your support!

    • everyonewantstobeitalian August 11, 2011 at 11:29 am Reply

      Ciao Michele,
      The place to purchase the machine is in Woburn, Ma. You can visit or order online.

      • Michele Connors (@MichConnors) August 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm

        Ciao Lisa, Thanks so much for this info! We will definitely check it out and get one. Hope you are enjoying your sauce!

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