Memories of red sour tomatoes and tahini sauce
Updated: Oct 18, 2022
I was a very picky eater as a child. In this photo, my mother is feeding me while I’m being distracted with a toy, with the help of my brother and my aunt. Children with bad eating habits come and go, but in my case, what was completely unacceptable back then in the 70s, was the fact that I refused to eat raw tomatoes - a staple food in every Israeli household.
What the heck is wrong with this child?!
I'm 4 years old, and in my daycare, we're having the same snack every day: a slice of bread with Gvina Levana (the Israeli soft white cheese spread) and fresh-cut tomato. I would associate daycares with the smell of that cheese and tomato combination for the rest of my life, but I had never eaten it. Never. Instead, I was given a slice of bread with a layer of margarine topped with fresh cucumbers.
But at home, my mom didn’t give up. One day she had an idea: if my child likes tahini so much (and I did!) perhaps she wouldn't mind eating chopped tomatoes swimming in tahini sauce. In other words - the tahini could be a great distraction... from the tomatoes.
Well... she tricked me. I couldn't resist eating this. But recalling this today I suspect that the real reason that I kinda liked that, was the fact that the bitter-sweetness of the tahini contradicted the strong acidity flavor of the tomatoes, and had created a completely different tomato experience.
Today we know that people like me, who dislike raw tomatoes but love them when they’re fully cooked and blended with other flavors, do not necessarily have psychological issues. However, tahini for me, to this day - no matter how it is made or where - would always be the food that takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of home.