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Tomatoes for Your Valentine

February 9, 2011

Valentine’s Day is again upon us — another year has passed! Time to run to the store and buy some flowers and chocolates for your Valentine. But why not tomatoes?


That’s right, tomatoes. They have the perfect color for Valentine’s Day, and surely they have the perfect name for it. In many languages the tomato is as referred as love apple: jablko milosci in Polish, Liebesapfel in German, and pomme d’amour in French.

Naturally, the love apple has not escaped being thought of as an aphrodisiac — how perfect for Valentine’s Day! There was a time when the belief in the power of the tomato made many young women afraid to eat them.

The tomato was introduced to the United States in the 19th century, but for a long time was thought to be poisonous. It took a while for the tomato to be accepted as an eatable vegetable, although botanically it is a fruit.

So for Valentine’s Day, wouldn’t it be nice to offer your Valentine a love apple instead of chocolates? It would be a healthier gift, no doubt, as tomatoes are well known for their nutritional value.

When I say tomatoes, I think about tomatoes grown in the garden and vine-ripened. I think about summer, and the texture and smell of the soil.

Small tomatoes on the vine Large tomatoes on the vine

Ever since childhood tomatoes have been very special to me. Perhaps I have some gene of an Italian? Italians developed a whole folklore around tomatoes and many ways of preparing them. I am especially thankful for the invention of delicious Italian spaghetti sauce.

Oh well, I simply love tomatoes! I love to eat them, I love to cook them, and I love to photograph them (I used to grow them too — back east, in Massachusetts). One might say that I glorify tomatoes. Here are two of my photographs in that category — glorified tomatoes — for your Valentine’s Day.

Tomato on a pedestal
On the Pedestal The Onset Review
cover, summer 1990

I took this photo some time ago while visiting Poland and later used it on the cover of the literary magazine which I published for a short time on the Cape

"Just 4 You" by Alicja Mann

This photo was taken last summer in Massachusetts. I harvested the little tomatoes from my son’s garden, photographed them and I titled the picture Just 4 You. Last fall it was included in a collective exhibit of Tucson’s artists.

"Just 4 You" - tomatoes at an exhibition
Tomatoes. The accumulation of sun and warmth under their tender skin is so unmistakably delicious. They bring memories of picnics, swimming, green grass, and roses. They could bring memories of Valentine’s Day as well.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

What I wrote today is a short variation of an essay Valentine Tomatoes in my book Looking at the World Twice.

In the spirit of Valentine giving I have an offer for you. If you subscribe to my blog between now and 15th of March, I will send you a gift (shipping costs included).
Please choose one of the following:
1. Photo print of Just 4 You size 10×10
2. Photo print of On the Pedestal size 8×10
3. My book (winner of several awards) Looking at the World Twice
E-mail your choice and mailing information to or call me at 520-344-7440.

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Copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann

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