Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

My maternal family has an uncommon food allergy - tomatoes. My mother could not eat raw tomatoes, but if they were cooked she was alright. My aunt has issues with vegetables in general, and I have been told their mother also had issues with tomatoes. In fact, family lore (highly unlikely that it is true, but is still amusing) says that my maternal grandmother's grandfather was the first man to import tomatoes to Scotland and, when the new culinary treat didn't take off as had been hoped, the family ended up having to eat a lot of them at home. Over time multiple members of the family developed intolerances. The plant is, after all related to the highly poisonous deadly nightshade, and the fruit of the tomato is the only edible part as the leaves are also toxic.

I was in my twenties before I realized I too had issues with tomatoes. More recently I've realized that my problems have increased, to cover peppers and eggplant. For the time being potatoes (also related) appear to be alright and I am ignoring the likelyhood that chili peppers (and therefore many spicy foods that I LOVE) are a problem. Unfortunately for me it is not enough to cook tomatoes, and even small amounts in sauces will give me an upset stomach. Eating in India was made more difficult by attempts to find dishes that didn't have tomatoes as the sauce base, and I've had to give up a number of my favourite dishes.

Pizza, thankfully, is not one I've had to give up completely, although for the most part I have to make it myself. When I have access to an oven it is one of my favourite meals to make. My old stand-by has a pesto-sauce base and is then loaded with spinach, red onion, feta cheese, mozzarella, and whatever else is in the fridge (shrimp, bacon, moose sausage, asparagus, artichoke...) When I was in Canada over Christmas I made pizza a couple of times, each time using store-bought pizza shells and whatever I found in the fridge. Two of the concoctions I came up with this time were:

Christmas Turkey Left-over:

I used a citrus cranberry sauce (I never liked cranberry until I tried this at Thanksgiving dinner at relatives of an ex, this sauce has been a staple in my family's holiday dinner ever since) as a base, and piled it with spinach, leftover roast onions and turkey, feta cheese and mozzarella. I wasn't sure how it would work, but it was actually really good and a fun new way of serving up turkey left-overs!

and Chinese Hoisin Chicken:

While I still prefer Peking duck without it, I have finally managed to outgrown my HATRED of hoisin sauce (I called it "poison sauce"). My dad loves the stuff, however, so he was insistent that we make a hoisin pizza. We used cubes of left-over chicken, and more of the Christmas roast-onions. It was very yummy but we both agreed that it needed vegetables - perhaps mushrooms and something green.

While I may be adventurous about what I put on the pizza I make, I must admit I still am not a fan of some Japanese pizza - with mayo, corn, potatoes, and tuna... shudder...!

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