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Years ago, when I was first in England and longing for a tomato sandwich, I was told that if I wanted to peel the tomato skin from the tomato, I should put it into boiling water for twenty to thirty seconds. I was scandalized and decided that it was better to eat the sandwich with the skin on, rather than to partially cook the tomato.

My memory of ripe tomatoes, an August delight, where the skins virtually slid off when you touched them with a knife, were gone. England just didn't have that kind of tomato. The antiques business is still a surprise to me. At a small sale that I viewed with another dealer, we noted a side board with a top that was refinished so poorly that the piece repulsed rather than attracted interest.

There was a second piece in the sale, made of rosewood, whose top was similarly afflicted. Both pieces have intrinsic value, but the bad finishing had destroyed it and the pieces were game for someone who could reclaim the inherent beauty of the wood underneath the muck that some finisher had applied. There are certainly more ways than one to peel a tomato and some ways will be quicker than others. Some will require more care and those methods should be used when you have higher purpose than just making tomato sauce. In a siimilar vein, antiques need proper looking after.

I would say that even pieces that have sentimental value need proper looking after. This is just the right thing to do. For my part, I have decided that I rather like having the skins on when I make a tomato sandwich, so now I just have to find ripe tomatoes. Wait until August, I guess.