Thursday, March 12, 2009

San Marzano tomatoes

I love to read gourmet cooking magazines, when we are at the airport, my husband buys two mags, "Rock and Ice" (a climbing mag) and "The Economist", if my mother were in the airport she would buy something trashy like, "US Weekly" or the trashy mag in sheep's clothing "People". I buy "Bon Appetit" and "Gourmet"  with the occasional, "Taste of Home" Rarely do I rip out a recipe and actually use the recipe. I just like to get ideas and see what these "experts" constitute as good food.  
Often with reading these magazines I feel a bit of culinary guilt, or maybe it is envy.  The reason for this is that these gourmet magazine are always calling for ingredients that I rarely use, things like fresh herbs. It's not that I don't believe in fresh herbs, its just that they are expensive, and they don't keep well and you have prepare them, and chop them. I want to use fresh herbs, I really do, but I'm just not there yet. At least I use fresh garlic, my mother never used fresh garlic ( see, now I am rationalizing my guilt).
One ingredient in these magazines that cause me shame is San Marzano tomatoes. I always just use regular old hunts tomatoes in a can.  When shopping in Wall Mart, I noticed they carried this fancy pants San Marzano tomatoes.  It was time. It was time to face my shame and try these glory tomatoes.  To start with, they cost 4 times more than hunts brand. I bought them anyway.
So I used them in my tomato cream sauce to make some baked ziti. My expectations were high, four times higher in fact. They looked pretty out of the jar indeed.  I made my sauce like I always do. Boiled my pasta al dente. Combined the pasta with the sauce and some italian cheeses and off to the oven it went. 
After eating my baked ziti with my San Marzano tomatoes, I could taste no difference what so ever.  Now I can have peace knowing that I don't need to be spending 4 times as much for tomatoes. I just couldn't tell the difference, sorry Italy. I might however try them again for my pizza sauce, and who knows, I might be eating my words!

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