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Contemporary Art Month kicks off in all its homegrown glory this week (calendar, page 24; coverage, page 21), and if artist Gene Elder has anything to say about it, these hot summer days devoted to local visual culture will also rehabilitate that recently maligned fruit, the tomato. Salsa is our official condiment (or, when it’s good enough, like the nectar they serve at Maria’s Café on Nogalitos, a dish in its own right), and for this and other reasons, Elder’s long lobbied for SA’s official nickname to be The Big Tomato (bite us, NYC). “CAMestible!” is his rallying cry, and aspic his tomato vehicle of choice (which would go nicely with all those Jackie O sheaths and Camelot tributes showcased in the glossies earlier this spring). (Also, fondue, but in 100-plus weather, A-B can’t second that one.)

Tomatoes are abundant at farmers’ markets and in your friends’ gardens right now, and if aspic gives you unwelcome Douglas Sirk chills, turn your heirlooms into gazpacho, the refreshing cold Spanish soup made with onions, tomatoes, and herbs. has a great recipe for Gazpacho with Avocado Puree, and the only tweak we’d make is to add a seeded, diced, fresh jalapeño to the soup itself for a little extra South Texas kick.

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