Wall of passata at Eataly
When it comes to home cooking, there's not much new and different to discover. It's all pretty much been done by the many generations that came before. Of course, the Microplane changed everyone's life for the better a few years back, and the rice cooker was quite a revelation for me once I got over my snobbery and finally took it down out of the cabinet to try it out, but these are rare occurrences. Usually as a home cook I just go along, happy to find nothing more than a new cheese that I enjoy melting on toast.
But the other day I came across something new and exciting enough (to me) to put a bit of a spring in my step. Have you heard of passata before? Usually packed in tall thick bottles, it is essentially tomato puree. I don't know if the puree is a more pleasing texture or taste than what you normally find in cans, or if I just like the packaging better than a can (love being able to dump out a few tablespoons here and there and reseal), but I'm absolutely obsessed.
A recipe calls for a few ripe tomatoes in the dead of winter? No matter, throw in a bit of passata. It gives the color and taste of tomato without having to deal with those hard specimens at the supermarket or that unpleasant texture that canned tomatoes often have if you end up biting the wrong part (am I the only one totally grossed out by the remnants of tomato skin and stems?). It's like summer in a bottle. And at this time of year, we can use all of the fortifications against winter available.