This post originally appeared on August 20, 2019, in Add to Cart — the weekly newsletter for people who love shopping (almost) as much as they love eating. Subscribe now.
Ask my dear Eater coworker Sonia Chopra about tomatoes, and she will scoff and assure you that your love of them isn’t an act of psychological sublimation, your unconscious desperately seeking “a mundane joy in an absurd world,” as Amanda Mull put it in the Atlantic. They’re just really good, especially this time of year.
But I do think there’s something to the fact that heirloom tomatoes — and more precisely, “tomato season” — are crowding so many Instagram feeds this summer. There’s virtue signaling all over it: an obsession with organic, healthy food; a commitment to shopping locally from greenmarkets and farm stands; a discerning palate that appreciates the difference between in-season and out-of-season produce; and the ability to turn plain tomatoes into oozing galettes or basil-flecked salads.
I’m not quite sure why tomatoes have become the vehicle of choice for projecting our aspirational summer selves. (I suppose “stone fruit” runs a close second, while corn and zucchini just aren’t quite attractive enough.) But a vehicle they’ve become, an unassuming yet unmistakable representation of the wholesome, healthful, conscientious, ethical humans we wish to be. The sun is shining, tomatoes are peaking, and so are we.
Things to buy
- As so many chefs will tell you, you don’t need a 15-piece knife block. You really only need three basic knives — chef, paring, and serrated — to cook, and the Victorinox paring knife is one of the ones most beloved by the pros, and super affordable.
- This colorful checked apron from Limonarium is basically a stylish summer dress (albeit backless). It’s pricey but would make a very nice gift.
- Sure, there are some great grills featured in this week’s episode of The Kitchen Gadget Test Show, but what I really want is guest co-host Ben Turley’s “Chicken Parm” T-shirt (and this kosher kid doesn’t even eat chicken parm).
Things to know
- Trendy water bottle maker S’well has been expanding into other shapes for a while, and now it has two new product lines: S’nack by S’well, comprising smaller, squatter containers in bright patterns aimed at kids, and S’well Eats, which includes clear plastic “prep bowl” inserts that go inside the metal containers. Like everything S’well, they are very attractive, pretty useful, and wildly expensive.
- The grocery wars continue with Target, which this week announced its own wellness-y food brand called Good & Gather. The line’s 2,000 (!) products all eschew artificial flavors and sweeteners, synthetic colors, and high-fructose corn syrup, and they’ll slowly replace Target’s Simply Balanced and Archer Farms brands on shelves. (RIP, Archer Farms Monster trail mix. Road trips will never be the same.)
- If you live in NYC, you’ve got just a couple more weeks to get Ample Hills x Baked by Melissa’s summer pints, featuring smushed tie-dye cupcakes.
- I’ve always felt this to be true, but could never really articulate how California isn’t just a cuisine, it’s a full-on restaurant aesthetic: “a table on the patio or by the pool, surrounded by desert plants and minor celebrities, a glass of wine glinting in the ceaseless sunshine.”
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.