The Plot Twist of the Mark Twain Tomatoes

In this post, The Magic in This Story's Process, I wrote about a plot twist about Mark Twain tomatoes that presented itself: Mark Twain tomatoes - Never heard of them until I started seeking out rare tomato seeds for Vanishing Feast. I discovered them in the catalogue. When I went to order the seeds, they were out. I was faced with a choice, a classic example in building a narrative in a story. Do I just say "oh well I'll order earlier next year" or do I demonstrate my commitment to this project, and start a journey to find these seeds or plants. I chose to find seeds, plants or both. A little alchemy later for making the right choice, I found plants that will be available in northern Tennessee at Shy Valley Plant Farm. Living in southern New Jersey I can make this trip, document it as part of this story, and taste these rare tomatoes, that evidently bruise easily but taste really good. Perhaps the Mark Twain will become a rally point in this story.

I took that trip this past weekend. I stayed in Johnson City, TN, which I found out is right down the the road from Jonesborough, TN. Jonesborough hosts a National Storytelling Festival. At the Inetrnational Storytelling Center.  Imagine that? A plot twist in a story about tomatoes named after a great American writer, who wrote classic American stories, leads me to an area that hosts a storytelling festival and is home to an international storytelling center.

Pretty darn cool I will say. Had I shrugged my shoulders, and said I'll order earlier next year, the above would never happened. I would have gotten the seeds instead of finding the plants. I would've never met the nice owners of Shy Valley, and never discovered the storytelling festival or center.

Viewing my life as a story, and using this blog as a medium to focus my passion and attention towards expressing that concept, along with demonstrating the twists and turns that make a story great, the narrative that developed is so much better then anything I could've made up. There's the magic in the process.

The tomatoes Jeff? What about the tomatoes? I'll find out later in the season when they get ripe.The people at have good things to say about the flavor, so I will go on that for now. I can't seem to find much more information about Mark Twain tomatoes so far, but if its out there, I will.

The blurb from says they bruise easily, which disqualifies them the big box retailing model in existence today. According to that model, this tomato has no value. I call bull shit on that. The value in this tomato is that exclusive to people who grow it. It much more precious because of it's nature. And it fits in well the concept of heirloom plants as family heirlooms. I can see these tomatoes becoming a rally point for Vanishing Feast because of the process covered above that brought them to my attention, the magic in the process, and the value that disqualifies them from the big box retail model.

Here's a quote from Mark Twain's story, Hunting The Deciftful Turkey:

I was ashamed, and also lost; and it was while wandering the woods hunting for myself that I found a deserted log cabin and had one of the best meals there that in my life-days I have eaten. The weed-grown garden was full of ripe tomatoes, and I ate them ravenously, though I had never liked them before. Not more than two or three times since have I tasted anything that was so delicious as those tomatoes. I surfeited myself with them, and did not taste another one until I was in middle life. I can eat them now, but I do not like the look of them. I suppose we have all experienced a surfeit at one time or another. Once, in stress of circumstances, I ate part of a barrel of sardines, there being nothing else at hand, but since then I have always been able to get along without sardines.

I'll let you know if the Mark Twain's are as delicious as that quote. Que the cliffhanger.