Les Tomates  
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by Christine Delmar

When the sun shines, tomatoes become a must in every French meal. Small or big, round or long, single or in clusters, they can please every taste. In the summertime, the French eat two thirds of the annual production, i.e. 330,000 tons, which equals to 10 kilos per inhabitant. That's little to say that in France, the tomato is the queens of fruits!

As an appetizer or dessert, raw or cooked, as juice or in a soup, tomatoes are indispensable in summer meals. The Pourcel brothers, three Michelin star chefs of "Jardin des Sens" in Montpellier, propose (among others) a hot tomatoes tart (see recipe). Also three Michelin star, Alain Passard, Chef of "Arpège" in Paris, has become famous thanks to his "12 flavors candied tomato". This sugared dish has at its best shown that tomatoes can be a pure delight for a last course.

In order to encourage the French in the growing of tomatoes under glass, the producers of Tomatoes of France will open their farms to the public next June. Ten Glasshouses will be transformed in museums: two in Britanny, one in Nantes, one in Marmande - the French capital of tomatoes, one in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, one in the Aube county, and one in the Pyrenees. The visit, organised by the farmers and the researchers in agronomics, will include a discovery trail, an educational exhibit, and of course, a tasting session. It's a rare opportunity to discover the life of tomatoes before they get to our plates, to understand the usefulness of bumblebees in glasshouses or to learn how to find out when tomatoes have become ripe. For more information, please visit the Tomatoes of France website of : www.tomates-de-France.com