If the thought of this tomatoes-in-cream as a main course scares you, convert it to an elegant and unusual starter. Only with good tomatoes, however! Now come to think of it, you could combine Tomatoes Pomiane, like so many other things, with pasta. Or rice. Or poached eggs and bacon on toast — that would be an Old English breakfast taken into a new dimension. Dr. Edouard de Pomiane, Polish-born, was a professor at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and author of a book I’d love to lay my hands on, French Cooking in Ten Minutes, which is not, I’m sure, about FAST FOOD.
.. . Well, just a few days after writing that sentence I found that this 1930 opus had been awakened from a long slumber by North Point Press; and in it I found not precisely the “Pomiane” recipe Elizabeth David fondly published in one of her books and I for your pleasure on this page had pumped up with added cream and embroidered with herbs — no, what I came upon instead was a tomatoes-and-cream with finely chopped onion added to the pan early on and sour cream some minutes later.
So now you can enter your kitchen in a delightful haze of pomodoran possibilities.
Pomiane’s enchanting book, the size of a Beatrix Potter, is, he says, designed for “students, dressmakers, secretaries, artists, lazy people, poets, men of action, dreamers, scientists, and everyone else who has only an hour for lunch or dinner but still wants thirty minutes of peace to enjoy a cup of coffee.” Sounds very French. And in this book there are revelations — that, for example, Pomiane in 1930 found modern life “so hectic that we sometimes feel as if time is going up in smoke.” How would he deal with 2002? Hide in a Trappist monastery, where the cheese is good? Better, become a consultant to Mr. McDonald or the Colonel who, I think, need help.
And back in ’30 the French, we learn, were overcooking their pasta and serving it in “a formless mass.” So, announces the cheerful Docteur, “Let’s cook some noodles right.”
But on to those tomatoes . . .
Melt a good teaspoon or more of butter in a skillet, place therein 2 large halved tomatoes, cut side downward and pricked to let the juices escape into the pan; then warm the tomatoes gently for 10 or 15 minutes, turning them several times.
Stir in 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cream, mix with the juices, and when it bubbles maneuver the tomatoes-cum-juicy cream, which you’ve sprinkled with fresh tarragon and chives, onto diners’ plates — actually I like to serve these tomatoes in soup bowls.