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Beefsteak tomatoes drawing

Roma tomatoes

I grew up in a household with my mother and three sisters. My father was a cray fisherman and spent many weeks at a time out at sea. During the school holidays from when I was about 10 or 12, I went to work on my uncle's market garden in Wanneroo. I liked working with my uncle and aunt, and it got me away from my sisters.

A favourite memory is of helping with the tomato crop. My uncle grew other vegetables like lettuce, sweet corn and celery, but I liked to work with tomatoes. I would work from about six or seven in the morning until midday when we took our lunch break.

I had a few jobs to do. One was planting tomato seeds. Near the house was a small plot of land that had been thoroughly worked over and prepared, just for seedlings. We planted the seeds by scattering them. When the seeds sprouted and grew a little, I would remove the smallest and weakest seedlings, leaving the healthiest to grow until it was time to remove them. We would put them into punnets and load them onto the tractor, which I learnt to drive, and take them to a part of the property that had been ploughed and fertilised with blood and bone and various manures in preparation for the young plants.

I was also allowed to help plant the seedlings. The soil on the property consisted of black sand and so by lunch time, having dug and raked and worked directly with the soil, I was filthy and in need of a shower.

There was one scary time when I stepped on a brown snake. My uncle had a shotgun on the tractor and shot it before it could do any harm. Apparently brown snakes, which can be deadly, were quite common on the gardens so a shotgun was kept close by.

When I was 12, I went to help another uncle who was a builder and renovator. I worked as a brickies' labourer. It was hard work, but I found it satisfying. Besides that, I was paid for it. I worked for my uncle over many school holidays and, as well as keeping busy and out of the house, I earned considerable pocket money. The skills I learnt then have stayed with me now. It was a great job, but I never forgot my first ever job of growing tomatoes, and learning to make tomato sauce.

Peter Vinci

Home-made Italian tomato sauce

4 kg Roma tomatoes
1 bulb garlic
1 brown onion, chopped
Olive oil
Handful fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Boil tomatoes until they blister, then cool and peel. Puree with a blitzer wand or in a food processer. Fry oregano, garlic and onion in oil until cooked. Add the tomato puree, basil and salt and pepper and simmer for 2 hours. Serve with pasta.

To make a delicious meat sauce with the basic tomato mixture, add chopped pork belly when adding the fresh basil and salt and pepper to the tomato puree then continue simmering for two hours. Serve with spaghetti or macaroni and a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Roma tomatoes drawing