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86 the Tomatoes: Are We Seasonal or Narrow-Minded?

Seasonality. It’s is a word bandied about a lot here. “Our menu is seasonally driven …” How many times have you heard a chef say that?

A lot.

For some reason, tomatoes are the most seasonally sacred of all vegetables and fruits: Should an unwitting chef serve a tomato in January, I guarantee the Chowhounders will log on to vent about the sacrilege. While the average diner might be vague on the seasonality of an artichoke (it has two seasons here: spring and fall) and have no guilt about munching on green beans year-round, everyone knows that a slice of tomato=a slice of summer. (And, for the record, summer ended September 21st.)

Not surprisingly then, last week I went to order a sandwich from The Sentinel, chef Dennis Leary’s tiny sandwich shop, and noticed the note: “No more tomatoes until next summer—sorry.” Then Jessica told me that she was at Tartine and ordered an open-faced sandwich that was listed as having tomatoes on it—only to be told that tomatoes would no longer be served with it because tomatoes are out of season.

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