They hanker back to fresh vine ripened tomatoes where both smell and taste were terrific. If you grew up in a summer tomato production area like I did you can probably still smell that great odour from ripe tomatoes and taste the ripe flesh.
Today, even growing the same varieties, they are never quite the same. Produced too far from fresh markets, they are picked too green to allow travel time and prevent damage. When working in a tomato field, picking was made to be about getting what were called semi ripe tomatoes - thosse expecte to be at their peak in just a few days. With major markets 50 -80km away, you knew they would be used at their peak flavour.
While modern plant breeding and production has delivered varieties that retain "taste"and ripeness over extended periods, so that production is often several thousand kilometres from the user, and they arrive in a good condition in the shops.........they are just not quite the same. Many say taste less!
Fear not, the same plant breeding processes are on the trail and may have discovered some genes that are linked to six specific volatile compounds that enhance the perception of sweetness - the single most critical factor in any person's rating of a tomato. These volatiles can fool the brain, with tomatoes having high levels being preferred to those varieties naturally sweeter [ based on sugar compounds].
The work is now underway to incorporate these genes into tomatoes to combine better taste and smell, while retaining keeping quality and extended ripeness.
This issue has been around for over 25 years - ever since tomatoes became a mass production crop grown a long way from consumers, but hopefully we may see some change soon.
|fresh tomatoes on the vine|
More here - http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1038/scientificamerican0513-84