Wednesday Word: San Marzano

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San Marzano tomatoes.
Are they all they’re cracked up to be?

It depends.

If you use real San Marzano tomatoes, then yes: they are intense and creamy and rich and make a difference in what you are cooking.

I recently made a spectacularly rich penne all’arrabbiata using very rich San Marzano-style tomatoes.

San Marzano-type tomatoes can be rich and intense (Photo/andrewcoppolino.com).

Otherwise the plum-style tomato from Italy is the victim of knock-offs and out-and-out food fraud.

Authentic San Marzano tomatoes will be labelled with D.O.P. — an Italian law (Denominazione di Origine Protetta; literally, “Protected Designation of Origin”) that signifies and protects the tomato origin.

These tomatoes must be grown in Sarno Valley when they can be designated as Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino.

San Marzano tomatoes often come from Italy, but they are grown in several other countries. For instance, you’ll find San Marzano-type plum tomatoes grown in Leamington, Ontario.

San Marzano with D.O.P. label (Photo/andrewcoppolino.com).

But when it comes to countries, we shouldn’t forget that the tomato is a new world plant: likely originating on the west coast of South America, the word tomato derives from the Aztec terms that means “plump fruit.”

And that’s what you want in a good tomato, no matter where it comes from.

Closer to home, the popular Graffiti Market in the Catalyst-137 campus uses D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes for their excellent, cheesy Detroit-style pizza (pictured below) and pasta dishes.

Graffiti Market Detroit-style pizza (Photo/andrewcoppolino.com).

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