Gayla Trail at You Grow Girl recently wrote about receiving a tomato server as a gift. Her post reminded me that my grandmother, who was from an age and society that gave formal silver as wedding presents, had two of the things. And now they have come to me.
As these serving pieces are not commonly used anymore, it’s easy to assume it is because they are pointless relics of an age when multitasking was an unknown concept and formality was the way of life. Progress must mean streamlining the superfluous and glorifying the multifunctional, the flexible, the informal. The tomato server is a necessary casualty.
But reflect for a moment on the tomato server’s unique design, and you may, like I did, come to appreciate that perhaps a little something was lost on the march towards efficiency.
Almost everyone I know understands that the most delectable dish on an American summertime dinner table is the plate full of thickly sliced tomatoes. As the plate is passed, the tomatoes are speared with a fork, but in the transfer to the individual’s plate, the pulp and seeds often fall out and are left behind, a sort of inverse tomato Rapture in which the body is carried on but the soul remains on the dish. To my uncle, who as a child used to beat the pulp out of the tomato slice with the back of his spoon, this is less of a problem to be solved, but I find this habit of the tomato disappointing.
Well, I will have my uncle’s slices. This instrument is ingenious in its construction, with small holes to allow juice to drain away (thus not only avoiding the commingling of gravies, but also permitting one’s biscuits to stay dry until one decides which gravy they shall absorb), while retaining the pulp. The yin, uncle, remains with the yang. The Union is preserved.
The tomato server is no more pointless than the Cutco tomato sandwich knife, sold to my mother by my friend Paul the summer we were 18; he sold cutlery door-to-door to help finance his college education. The knife is serrated on one side, to properly cut the tomato without crushing it; the opposite side of the wide, paddle-shaped blade is smooth, to allow proper spreading of mayonnaise. One can then, if one desires, cut the tomato sandwich in half with the serrated side again, but that’s not how we do it. Mom still frequently uses the knife.
Thank you, meticulous and sometimes ridiculous Victorians, for inventing this clever piece of kitchen equipment, and thank you Gayla, for reminding me that I should get my toys out and play with them more often.
Next time we shall visit my asparagus tongs.