Archive for the ‘Roadside stands’ Category

A wealth of tomatoes

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

My favorite roadside fruit and vegetable stand in Arkansas is at the intersection of U.S. 70 and Arkansas 33 at Biscoe.

If you’re traveling to or from Memphis on Interstate 40, just get off at the Biscoe exit and drive a couple of miles south on Highway 33 to the stop sign. You’ll see the roadside stand just on the other side of U.S. 70.

I won’t be stopping as much as I did last summer when I was commuting to an office in Clarksdale, Miss., each week. But a business trip to Wynne last week did allow for a stop (after lunch at Craig’s in DeValls Bluff). And I can tell you that they are flooded with locally grown tomatoes right now and willing to make a deal.

“Are you sure you don’t want to buy an entire flat?” the lady asked.

“We can’t eat that many right now,” I answered, explaining that my wife and youngest son were down in metropolitan McGehee for the state baseball tournament.

“I’ll sell you half a flat for $7,” she said.

It was a deal. Many of the tomatoes are picked within walking distance of the stand. After just a couple of days of ripening in my kitchen window at home, they ended up being the best tomatoes I’ve had this summer. Sorry, Paul Greenberg, but they were even better than the Bradley County pinks I had bought at the produce room of the Green Tree Nursery on Rodney Parham. And those cost $8 for just four big tomatoes.

The cantaloupes are also some of the best I’ve had. Just be warned that during this hot period, your car will smell like a cantaloupe for several more days. So be sure you like the smell.

One warning: Stay away from the cucumbers. I got a bitter batch last summer. I decided to give them another try last week. Again, they were bitter.

Our extensive research on bitter cucumbers (we’re here to serve) has revealed that the  bitterness is the result of stress than can be caused by everything from heredity to moisture to temperature to soil characteristics. Two compounds, cucurbitacins B and C, give rise to the bitter taste.

There you have it. And make sure to use the word “cucurbitacin” in a sentence later today.

Buy the tomatoes. You won’t be disappointed.

Where is your favorite roadside stand this time of year? We’re not talking some fancy “farmers’ market” where people in khaki shorts, madras shirts, Topsiders and no socks pretend they’re “being country.”

We’re talking real roadside stands.

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