From boredom, springs curiosity..for me that is… Today, I was curious about tomato paste which led me on a historical journey of tomatoes.
Being half Turkish, tomatoes are just part of life. They are part of our genetic make up at this point because a day isn’t complete if you haven’t eaten any tomatoes!
I had no idea when I went down this rabbit hole that tomatoes have only been part of Turkish Cuisine since the 16th century!
If we follow the bread crumbs left behind in old writings, cook books and travelogues, tomato traveled across the globe something like this: South America to Europe (by conquistadors) and finally to turkey.
Because tomatoes only grow in summer, they devised a way to make a paste that could be frozen, canned, and preserved to be used during the winter months. The turkish word “Salça” stems from the Italian word “salsa” because the Ottomans first aqcuired tomatoes from italy.
When you go to the farmers market in Turkey, you will see huge mounds of tomato paste that can be sliced off into a container to take home. Tomato paste has become such an integral part of Turkish cuisine from salads to rice to meat dishes.
I still remember one time feeling astonished when someone told me that the only purpose for tomato paste was to thicken pasta sauce and began to argue with me that I was using it wrong. All I could do was look at him and laugh at the ridiculousness of that statement to a Turk!
Making tomato paste is not as crazy easy as it sounds. I tried it last summer. A friend would bring me an overflow of tomatoes every month and I thought, Why not? I’ll give it a shot!
yea, not crazy easy and doesn’t make so much by the time you are done. I reccomend trying it, but don’t be dissapointed at how little you get from the boat load of tomatoes used.