Finally, after my efforts turned up nothing but mank, I decided to try the local greengrocer. Who better to guide me in the direction of crisp, ripe, fragrant tomatoes.
I reached the counter and there they were in front of me...cherry tomato heaven.
I looked up at the lady in the greengrocer for some kind of affirmation.
"Very good." She said. "Very fresh. Beautiful."
And they did look good under those fluorescent lights, all shiny and red.
When outside in the daylight, I noticed a strange phenomenon. Tiny hairs were growing from almost every pore of every tomato. (do tomatoes have pores?) Perhaps it's just lint, I thought. Then I took a closer look later on. It was definitely hair, not lint. I had just bought a bunch of hairy tomatoes. Perhaps they were ok, perhaps this stuff was external and would come off. So I opened the cling film wrapper.
If you know the smell of rotten tomatoes, you will know what I was smelling. No fresh tomato could smell like this. But still, I found myself vainly sniffing for a hint of freshness underneath the stink to no avail.
Rule #1 when buying tomatoes - Smell them. If they are covered with cling wrap, be suspicious, try and sniff them anyway. If you can't get in to smell them, move on. It is too easy to disguise stinky tomatoes under plastic.
Rule #2 - Check for hairs.