Saturday, April 18, 2009

What Tomatoes Do In The Dark In The Kitchen Is Their Own Business


A few weeks days ago, I looked into the Tomato Storage Area (TSA) and saw a tomato looking past it's prime. Closer inspection showed that it was not actually rotting. It was firm and smelled like tomato. But it still looked weird. Like it had some kind of Tomato Cancer. I reached for the compost to chuck it but stopped and grabbed a knife first, thinking "what does Tomato Cancer look like, really?"

I started to carve, and like some Vegetarian version of Alien, out popped a plant:

[Just thinking I'd encounter some hard tomato cells, I didn't stop to take a before photo. But you can see in the above photo, an emerging parasite - albeit a small one - circled.]

I showed Max and he said I should just stuff it in a pot with dirt and see if it grows. Well, THAT smacked of effort, so I quickly rationalized realized that the tomato itself held nutrients & moisture so I'd just let it feed itself for a while.

A couple of weeks days later, I remembered observed it rotting on the shelf and resurrected my investigation.

Since it seemed to be self-destructing not doing so well in one spot, I decided to cut my investigation short and just sliced it open to see what was inside, which was all kinds of tomato seeds germinating.

I've never seen anything like this, despite years of buying tomatoes. So I'm figuring maybe the tomato aren't usually fertilized, so don't get this far (or am I thinking chicken eggs? Grade 9 science was a looonnnng time ago, even if I was paying attention, which was doubtful with Simon LeBon sitting in front of me). Which leaves me asking: why are the tomatoes fucking in my fruit-bowl?

So then I got the heebie-jeebies and threw the whole mess out. And washed my hands, cause I felt like I had tomato spoof all over them. And bleached the counters. And don't look at tomatoes the same way any more. They don't look at me the same way anymore either since I decimated their family.

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  1. OK, I am grossed out by the rotting, self-fertilized tomato-egg thingie you were growing, and just who was the Simon LeBon of that class????

  2. Re - Simon LeBon: I may or may not have been blending memories there. I think I'm happier with my new ones! ;-)

  3. If I EVER found something like this in my house, I'm pretty sure I would freak the f--- out. OMG is that weird...

  4. Twasthebrilligandtheslithytoves -- I totally had to copy & paste that! And I DID freak out! But in a calm "let's cut this fucker up and see what gives" kind of way ;-)

    I was *kind* of hoping that someone would tell me that they see this kind of thing all the time... You know, to freak out a little bit less! :-S

  5. Relax, it happens. The seeds just germinated earlier than you expected.

    Think about it in a natural way --- the tomato didn't develop its yummy pulp so that you could make great pizza sauce, it developed it so that animals would eat it and poop the seeds out somewhere where they would grow --- and also to provide nutrients for the seed as it formed. But any sane plant would also prepare for the likelihood that some fruit would not get eaten, and the fruit would fall to the ground. Plants with seeds with the ability to germinate inside the fruit would be selected to move on to the next round of "Life: The Reality Series".

    Your comments about fertilization are confused. The seed doesn't require that kind of fertilization, that happened at the flower stage before the fruit was formed. The ovary wall, after fertilization has occurred, develops into a fruit. I'm not making that up, it's a cut-and-paste from Flowering Plant Reproduction. So do your best to work that into conversation in the lunch room at work tomorrow. That same site describes the white part of the coconut as solid endosperm, something to keep in mind the next time to have anything with coconut.

  6. Albert -- I knew there was a reason I gagged whenever I eat coconut (swish - thanks for the softball!)

    Somewhere back in the attic of my memory, I recalled the vegetable sex happening to form the fruit. It just didn't make for a good visual. Artistic license and all. Still, I've never seen this. Rationalizing it all, I thought that I really should have seen this much more often (leave potatoes in the fridge too long and the "eyes" start to sprout) and I think that is pretty surprising.

    I can assure you that, working in an office full of men, the word "ovaries" has never been uttered within the confines of those walls... "fallopian tubes" was once mentioned by a gentleman who subbed that in when he meant to say "uvula". He was very red when I explained what he had said, and I think I might have dislocated something laughing.

  7. That's a freaky-ass tomato. I'd make sure it's out of your house otherwise it may eat you in your sleep.