A wealth of tomatoes

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 theĀ  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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12 Responses to “A wealth of tomatoes”

  1. Neal Moore says:

    First of all, if you bought that many tomatoes, why didn’t offer any to your friends? I too have a major thing for tomatoes. My grandparents lived in Hermitage and I spent many summers and weekends there observing the packing of the pinks being readied for shipping in the sheds. I even named one of my dogs, Mater. Keep us posted on the bargain tomatoes and hey, try sharing a bit more.

  2. Chris Babb says:

    There’s a stand on Hwy 7 around Bismarck that is always crowded when making the curvy trek to Hot Springs from Arkadelphia. Fruit included.

    Nothing reminds me of growing up in the south during summer more than a bacon and tomato sandwich. I’m hearing the sound in my head of the knife scraping the toast while spreading on the mayo and then getting scolded by mom when she saw the toast crumbs in the mayo jar when she fixed her sandwich….now that’s livin’.

  3. rexnelson says:

    What is your favorite bacon to go with those tomatoes?

    It’s Petit Jean or Wright for me.

  4. Chris Babb says:

    as long as it’s cooked and crispy, i’ll eat it…you’ve never known me to be picky about much as far as food, have you?

  5. Jimmy says:

    I was in Hope last Friday and found a couple of young fellows selling Watermelons from the back of a truck. Lugged the melon home to Jonesboro and found it was the sweetest I have eaten in years. Wished I had bought two.

    Wright’s is my pick on bacon.

  6. csaffa says:

    Petit Jean peppered on sourdough makes for the best BLT.

  7. Kay Brockwell says:

    I’ll second that on the Bismarck stand; stopped by there the other day for 20 bucks, bought more than I could carry to the car in one trip. I go with Wrights or Petit Jean as well for bacon, although Tyson has a thick-cut that Kroger occasionally puts on sale that isn’t bad.

    Now, you want to do something GOOD with those tomatos? Dice up a couple of them. Dice up an equal amount of watermelon. Toss them together with a dash of balsamic vinegar and a slightly bigger dash of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle some chopped fresh basil on top.

    Or take a can of the el cheapo flaky biscuits (it has to be the flaky ones), and separate each biscuit into halves. Peel your tomatos and slice ‘em about 1/4 inch thick; seed them and let them drain while you roll the half-biscuits out into circles. Sprinkle grated parmesan on the circles (leave about a half-inch or more edge). Overlap tomato slices on the parm. Sprinkle with a little more parm. Turn the edges up. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, turn down to 350 and bake until the pastry is done.

  8. Chris Pyle says:

    See, this is exactly the kind of thing I expected from your blog and am thrilled to see it. Keep ‘em coming.

  9. Becky Morgan Cheney says:

    MHO — best tomatoes are Ozark Pinks and come from Cleveland County from whoever you might acquire them! Being raised in this area (in the suburbs of Fordyce, Kingsland, and New Edinburg – proper name Smith Chapel) – they never fail to delight no matter whether you are eating them with a full meal (lots of other freshly picked goodies and a good fried pork chop!) or just mayo on some bread with lots of salt and pepper. I have a good many right now that are all ripe at the same time so we are not failing to eat several a day. They’ll soon be gone … : (.

  10. Bob Ross says:

    On the subject of BT sandwiches, I’ve been baking the bacon and topping it with chopped rosemary and black pepper. Wright’s or Petit Jean (when I can get it, no one in Memphis where I am currently imprisoned sells it, but you can get Wright’s). Lots of Duke’s Mayo and lightly toasted white bread and its heaven on earth. I’ve been getting Arkansas tomatoes at a local produce stand. Ripley TN tomatoes are just now coming into production and they are a reasonable alternative to any Razorback grown tomato. I’m stopping at Biscoe on my next trip to LR.

  11. Bob Ross says:

    Further on the subject of BT sandwiches. I never eat one I don’t think of Richard Allin. His disdain for the L in BLT’s converted me to the far superior BT sandwich.

  12. rexnelson says:

    Amen on leaving off the lettuce.

    Lettuce will simply ruin a good summer Arkansas bacon and tomato sandwich. Let the Yankess have lettuce.

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