Los jitomates bolas, when you can find them, are a little more flavorsome, but are usually watery.
See this WikiPedia article on tomatoes and their origin. Mexico helped give tomatoes to the rest of the world, but in recent years, they are slacking off at the job. Maybe it's different outside of Michoacán. I hope so.
The local tomatoes are o.k. in Huevos a la Mexicana, in salsas frescas, or any dish where they serve mostly to bulk up and buffer a spicy concoction. But for those of us wanting to make Italian style sauces, one must locate some good canned tomato products. This has become easier in the last couple of years. It wasn't too long ago that a friend in Morelia found a #10 can of tomato paste, which he ended up giving to me when he moved. It was more of a curse than a blessing, for we had to find a way to store and freeze the surplus once the huge can was opened.
That, and various canned or boxed puré de tomate was about all we could find just a few years ago. Then came the Tomato Breakthrough. Cans of Progresso Brand Crushed Tomatoes in Puree started appearing in larger supermercados such as Wal-Mart and Superama and Soriana.
The graceful, Modigliani necked bottles of Cirio Passata Di Pomodori made their entry into the higher echelons of Morelia stores. The Cirio tomatoes were light, but flavorsome, but more expensive. For a while, Cirio twin paks were found in Costco. Then they vanished, to be replaced first by Contadina Prepare Pizza Sauce, which is very thick, cheap, decent when serving pizza to a crowd, but not for pasta sauces.
Then the Spanish, not content with having conquered Mexico's native people, brought up its best weapons in the tomato conquest stakes: Cidacos brand tomatoes; including very good Tomates Triturados (ground or crushed), and whole peeled tomatoes (Tomates Enteros). They are usually available at Wal-Mart and Superama. Mega Comercial used to carry both Cidacos and Cirio, but has pretty much reverted to its popular base lines of Purés de Tomate. (Del Fuerte is the best brand of that lot.)
A year or two later, the canned tomato battlelines shift frequently, as we now found rich color Progresso Brand Crushed Tomatoes in Puree, which is a great start for pizza or your pasta fazool.
On a recent visit to Superama, just after buying the Progresso tomatoes at Soriana, we couldn't help but pick up some cans of both Cidacos Tomates Triturados and even better, some canned Cirio Pomodori Pelati Entero. (Please excuse the mixing of languages.)
The next day we visited Costco in hot pursuit of more tomatoes.
Costco carryies a nice line of American style canned tomatoes; we especially like the S&W Tomates Guisados Estilo Italiano, in a case of 12. They are Italian seasoned stewed tomatoes. But on the day of our last visit they were not available on Costco's tomato shelves. The S&W diced tomatoes do fine in a pinch. They are best in soups, stews, pot roasts and the like; less successful in pasta sauces. Now, if you own a restaurant, or else are truly nuts, you can buy #10 cans of tomato sauce or puree, and, yes, I think also tomato paste, at your friendly Morelia Costco. You probably won't find as great a range of S&W tomato products as pictured here at Costco, Morelia.
In conclusion; it's not so difficult to find decent canned tomato products, at least in Morelia. It's nearly impossible, so far, in Pátzcuaro. But its day will come.
Here, below, a promised recipe for a pizza sauce; adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure, Book 2, by Anna Thomas. (Yes, it's an expensive, out-of-print book.) I ramp it up the quantity in order to use the entire contents of the cans.
- 2 cups canned pureed tomatoes (Cidacos Tomates Triturados or better, Progresso Tomatoes Crushed in Puree)
- 1/2 cup tomato paste (case of 12, 12 oz cans available at Costco)
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled tomatoes. (a can of S&W diced or Italian syle, for example. Or better, a drained and crushed can of Cirio Pomodori Pelati)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp or more orégano, crushed. (Mexican orégano is fine.)
- 1 tsp basil, crushed
- 1/4 tsp thyme (tomillo)
- dash of marjoram (mejorana. I leave it out.)
- dash of cinnamon (El toque especial. Just go easy. It shouldn't taste like a CinnaBon treat.)
- 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar, or red wine
- 1 tsp sugar, or too taste. Go easy on the sugar. You could even omit it.
- 2 or more cloves of garlic, crushed or minced.
- I add a Tbsp of olive oil and a few shakes of hot red pepper flakes. You can crush a dried red chlie in a molcajete. That is optional.
Taste for seasoning (it will tend to be more concentrated when your pizzas bake), and espesally for thickness. It's important that pizza sauce not be runny. Add more tomato paste if it needs thickening.