In Jamaican Patois, irie represents a condition of complete peace and contentment with one's current state of being. Or, more literally, irie means everything is alright.
So as our family returns from a glorious week on the island of Jamaica and the snow continues to fall outside my window, I find myself hanging on to this beautiful way of life that gently seduces and disarms even our most tightly wound North American ways.
Sometimes we have to quiet the noise inside ourselves to begin hearing the beauty that surrounds us. That's what Jamaica represented for me.
I will be sharing some of our favourite island recipes and memories over the coming weeks but for today, I'm easing back into things with a simple and delicious salad featuring the novel and rather handsome looking kumato tomato.
Spotlight: Kumato® Tomato
First grown in Europe, the kumato® is said to originate from the wild tomato and has been developed over the past decade or so through a careful process of cross-breeding by plant specialists Syngenta. The kumato® is actually a patented hybrid tomato that is now grown across Europe, Mexico and in Canadian greenhouses.
Syngenta owns the patent to the kumato® and as such, retains all rights to the kumato's growth. Syngenta is said to handpick its select growers who, according to the company website, are required to follow 'strict protocols and crop management procedures'. However irksome and manipulative - if not highly unusual - a patent ownership on a tomato may sound, this is not to automatically infer that the kumato® is genetically engineered. In fact, Syngenta goes out of its way to dispel this notion on its website where it provides details regarding its tireless efforts to apply traditional plant breeding techniques and natural cultivation methods. The fact that the tomato is a hybrid does not automatically make it a genetically modified food. In fact, almost all tomatoes found in supermarkets today are the more resilient hybrid varieties.
What distinguishes the kumato® dramatically from other supermarket hybrids however is its outstanding taste which stands in sharp contrast to the mealy and tasteless commercial varieties typically available throughout the winter. While delightful heirloom varieties are available at local markets and some grocery stores through the summer months, for most of us,the winter time represents pretty minimal and undesirable choices for tomatoes.
I had my first kumato® tomato about a month ago. My husband and I both agreed that this is one of the tastiest tomatoes we had ever experienced. Is it better than the kind you would find at the market or grown in your backyard? Not necessarily. Is it better than the kind you will find from November through May in virtually every grocery store? Heck, yes!
So until I see some firm evidence to support the idea that Syngenta is performing witchcraft on the kumato®, I am quite happy to have a delicious, succulent and highly flavourful tomato to enjoy through the long winter months.
By the way, Whole Foods Market just announced a few days ago that it will require all products sold in its stores in the United States and Canada to carry labels indicating whether they contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018. Let's see whether kumato® is left off the list.
As for my featured salad today, it is really more of an idea than a detailed recipe. Simple, elegant and yes, very tasty! I do hope you enjoy it.
Kumato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Sweet Basil and Balsamic
Simply assemble sliced kumato® and mozzarella medallions in alternating stacks on four separate plates. Add some sliced avocado and basil leaves. Sprinkle with sea salt, cracked black pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Savour with delight.
Dear reader, have you ever tried a kumato®?