This is a great time to remember how flavorful tomatoes can be. For too much of the year, a barely pink food is gassed "ripe," yielding none of the flavor, texture or the nutrients of a vine-ripe tomato.
Tomatoes were first grown in Mexico and Peru. Europeans thought tomatoes were poisonous and used them as ornaments when they were first introduced in the 16th century. Today, they are the second-most-popular vegetable in the United States, after potatoes.
Though most go into processed foods such as ketchup and spaghetti sauce, it's tough to beat the delicious simplicity of a great fresh tomato.
Modern food scientists have discovered there are more than 400 flavor chemicals that make up the sweet-acid taste of ripe tomatoes. These flavors may be accented with the sour pungency of vinegar to make ketchup, chili sauce, barbecue sauce or salad dressing. Vinegar softens the vegetable cellulose fibers in the fresh tomato and brings out the harmonious combination of flavors in this gazpacho and many sauces.