As a nation we’ve always had a love affair with Italian food, but recent research from worldwide holiday company Kuoni shows that in particular we’re fascinated with Italy’s most famous produce…tomatoes. Brits search Google for ‘Italian tomatoes’ more than any other country’s tomatoes, with three times as many people searching for ‘Italian tomatoes’ than ‘British tomatoes’.
Tessa Dunmall, Commercial & Product Manager for Italy at Kuoni says “As a nation we are obsessed with Italian food, tomatoes being the quintessential Italian staple. Tomatoes embody the simple-yet-extraordinary cooking philosophy of Italy, but they also reflect the varied regional cuisines of Italy. The local specialities of each Italian province vastly differ from one another because of each region’s individual climate, history and agriculture. Italian tomatoes demonstrate these differences beautifully, and we wanted to explore what secrets are revealed about specific regions when you take a closer look at the tomatoes that grow there.”
Natoora sources fruit & vegetables grown for flavour, supplying both top chefs and home cooks with their produce. Two of Natoora’s tomato farmers, Francesco from Sicily and Rafaelle from Campania, reveal the famous Italian passion for cultivating unique tomato varieties that thrive on the geological make-up of the region. The variety of soil types across Italy affects the texture, colour and flavour of tomatoes, giving us some understanding as to why tomatoes from Italy look and taste so exceptional.
Francesco grows yellow and red Datterini tomatoes in Sicily and credits the island’s watery history for the quality of flavour of his crop. Francesco says “I grow my tomatoes in an area of Sicily that was covered by the sea in ancient times; you can still find seashells on the ground here. The salty earth and rich mineral deposits, combined with the region’s low humidity and plentiful sunshine, make for ideal growing conditions.”
Rafaelle’s family have been growing Cuore del Vesuvio in Campania for generations. Rafaelle says “My family have grown Red Bull’s Heart on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius for generations, using seeds we’ve saved each year. I’ve been growing a Black Bull’s Heart variety for just over a year now. The volcanic soil and nearby sea provide an ideal environment. The Black Bull’s Heart is sweet and only slightly tart, with a dense, meaty texture and almost black skin.”
Inspired by how the region’s geology affects Italy’s tomatoes, award winning photographer Nadege Meriau captured images that reveal the other-worldly complexity of Datterini, Marinda and Black Bull’s Heart tomatoes. Of the project Meriau says “There is a disconnection between the food we eat and where we buy it from. A supermarket environment does not help us connect to the story of the food. But eating a tomato in the region of Italy of which it grew will immediately impact your relationship with the taste and texture and give you a much more connected experience.”