The term Creole tomato is essentially used to market tomatoes to those who seek that real truly good time old feeling local tomato with the juice of the sun inside. While the bulk of folks at market selling you Creole Tomatoes are selling you the real (as it gets) deal I’m sure, there’s nothing stopping a grocery store, or their distributor, or anyone else from calling whatever they want to call a Creole Tomato a Creole Tomato. So seek your tomatoes henceforth with this knowledge in tow, and I’m sorry if I’ve ruined your day. Or your Creole Tomato Fest. Which is this weekend, June 13th and 14th at the French Market.
Tell everybody what you’ve learned and ruin all the fun, ok?
This is an image of a Celebrity
tomato, above up top is an image
of a Creole Tomato. I mean...
New Orleans loves its Creole Tomatoes. They are so popular as to be named the official State Vegetable Plant of Louisiana (not to be mistaken with the official State Vegetable, the Sweet Potato). They are preferred over heirloom tomatoes in the grocery stores and Farmer’s Markets around town. We hold a Creole Tomato Festival every Summer. We love them. Garden centers seek them. Gardeners covet them. Chefs revel in their juices.
The thing is, there’s no such thing as a Creole Tomato. Much less a Creole Tomato Plant. Leave it to the State of Louisiana to allow an invisible plant to represent its agriculturally symbolic arm before the nation. Creole Tomato plants did once exist, they were developed by LSU breeders back in 1960something, and they were a perfectly decent plant, but most of the professors hanging out in LSU’s Agricultural or Agronomical department these days will tell you that the Creole variety has long since disappeared into the aether, and the odds that any seed distributor has been accumulating seeds from this variety over the years are pretty much zero.
If you are buying a Creole Tomato Plant from me or somebody like me, you are being lied to. To be fair, many garden centers, garden center employees, and garden center owners likely have no idea this is the case. Even their nursery grower may be ignorant to this truth, though in their case ignorance is compliance and cannot be entirely forgiven. Creole Tomato Plants are not real. I’m sorry if you have approached me at market and asked if I had Creole tomato plants and I simply said no. I didn’t want to crush belief systems of any sort within the bubbly and ever pleasant confines of the Farmer’s Market. The internet allows room for another sort of honesty. So there it is. Creole Tomato Plants. Not real. Don’t believe the hype.
Creole Tomatoes on the other hand are kind of a thing. A rose by any other name kind of a thing. When you buy a Creole Tomato at any market, what you are buying is a tomato that was grown in Louisiana soil, has travelled a short distance to get to you, and has purportedly unique and delicious flavor characteristics as a result of years of silt runoff from the Mississippi River mixed in the soil and myriad other environmental factors. Heat and wet air and such. That Creole Tomato may have been grown off of any number of varieties of Tomato Plants, none of which were Creole Tomato Plants, because again, Creole Tomato Plants do not exist. I believe, based on some reading here and there and through personal observation, that the bulk of Creole tomatoes are actually Celebrity Tomatoes (though again, fair enough, call them Creole tomatoes if you want, because the soil and whatever).
Ian writes these. Fearlessly.