Get yourself to New Orleans for the 37th annual Creole Tomato Festival, which will take place this weekend, June 10-11. After perusing the food and events menu, I wish I could go—Louisiana friends, please go so I can live vicariously through you!
Check out some of the food offerings that highlight the star of the festival—the delicious "Creole tomato":
Cafe Dauphine: Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade – $10
Lillie Cajun Kitchen: Creole Tomato Jambalaya – $12
LeDelyo's Creole Catering, LLC: Creole Tomato Stuffed with Cool and Creamy Shrimp Pasta – $12
Southerns Food LLC: Southerns Creole Tomato Chick Sandwich – $5
Nuevo Horizonte Katherine LLC: Skewers with Creole tomato dipping sauce – $12
Alberto's Cheese and Wine Bistro: Creole Tomato Gazpacho – $8
Holy Crepes!: Creole Tomato Salad Crepe – $10
You can also buy fresh Creole tomatoes at the farm stands that will be present at the festival. And it wouldn't be a New Orleans festival without music—the festival kicks off Saturday morning with the "Ripe & Ready Second Line," which will feature the Treme Brass Band and the Festival Queen, Dianne "Gumbo Marie" Honore.
Three music stages will host live music all day long, and a fourth stage will feature cooking demonstrations from various chefs, including many from the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
Back in 1969, LSU released a tomato variety called Creole. However, LSU did not maintain a seed source for this variety, and it essentially has been lost. As a result, the Creole tomato transplants you see at the nursery are not likely the original variety.
In fact, an LSU AgCenter trial planting of Creole tomatoes grown from several seed sources showed a wide variation in how the plants grew and what kind of tomatoes they produced.
But that's not really a problem. The Creole variety was never used much by the local Creole tomato farmers in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. In fact, the term "Creole tomato" has never referred to a particular variety.
Instead, it indicates where the tomatoes were grown. This is a marketing term created by farmers in those parishes to distinguish their locally grown, vine-ripened tomatoes from tomatoes that were grown elsewhere.
In addition to being locally grown, the term Creole tomato is generally only applied to medium to large, red tomatoes. Although other sizes and colors of tomatoes may be locally grown, none of these generally are called Creole tomatoes (at least not historically).
So, when the tomato farmers in St. Bernard and Plaquemine parishes called their tomatoes Creole tomatoes, it did not refer to a specific variety. It meant they were locally grown in the rich alluvial soil of the area, and vine ripened because they did not have to be transported long distances to market. This gave them a rich flavor.
Now I'm seriously craving some Creole tomatoes, picked fresh from the backyard – they are absolutely delicious. Hey Louisiana fam, I won't make it home in time for the festival, but I'll definitely be there later this summer – please have some tomatoes waiting!