_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

It’s true: The whole thing was my idea.

It came to me a few years ago, while I was eating Cincinnati chili, a delicious concoction that pits a unique style of chili spiced with cloves and cinnamon against a bed of spaghetti. It’s delicious, and while certainly not the highest expression of culinary artistry in Cincinnati, the dish has become a signature of that city.

And I got to thinking: Philly has cheesesteaks. Chicago is famous for deep-dish pizza. Boston, for some reason, claims baked beans as its regional dish. And Baltimore has crabs.

And what do we have? Barbecue? Come on, man.

But we do have the best heirloom tomatoes I have ever tasted in my life: Purple Cherokees, Chocolate Stripeys, the ugly and delicious German Johnson. And we have optimal conditions in which to grow these things.

I used to swear by Louisiana’s Creole tomatoes until I got to the Triad. Things are different now.

Our unique agriculture also nourishes a fine array of greens: lettuces and kales, collards and mustards, arugulas and endives.

We are also the nation’s No. 2 hog-producing state, a $2 billion industry.

And in these past few years in the Triad, we’ve nurtured a network of artisan bakeries turning out some of the finest loaves I’ve ever seen.

And so it was that I decreed the Triad to be the eventual BLT capital of the world.[pullquote]The whole thing was my idea.[/pullquote]

It took another two visionaries to make manifest my notions. Greensboro food maven Mary Lacklen, who was my boss when I worked at Mosaic and Bert’s Seafood, and Lee Mortensen of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market seized on the idea and put it into action.

And so it is that this Saturday will be Tomato Appreciation Day at the GFCM, featuring a BLT cook-off pitting chefs from Emma Key’s, Undercurrent, the Worx and the GFCM team against each other for the title.

John Jones, a “self-proclaimed baconteur” from the Next Supper Underground Dining Collective will be answering questions about everyone’s favorite side meat.

And I’ve been told I will be a judge in the cook-off, which is pretty sweet.

I notice they left my name off the press release, which is fine by me. I’m not in this for the glory.

Still, the whole thing was my idea.

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