Tomato ‘Fantome Du Laos’ AKA ‘Ghost of Laos’
Ah, ‘Fantome Du Laos’, how quickly you captured my heart when I first happened upon your picture online!
Joking aside, I really did fall head over heals for this tomato when I first read about it. What got me to try to seek out a seed source for this variety (which wasn’t easy by the way – the only two sources I found commercially were American and wouldn’t ship to Canada) was actually the story that was associated with it, I hadn’t even seen a picture of it until after I had finally got my source (the wonderful Dan & Val). This once again illustrates that when it comes to history and story of a tomato, quite often that will be the deciding factor for me.
You see, I like ghosts (hold on, this is leading to something…). I don’t actually believe in ghosts, but I love ghost stories, ghost movies, and even those really crappy ghost hunter type shows (mostly because I love to see panicky people wandering around in the dark screaming at nothing, I know, I’m kind of a sadist).
What does this have to do with this tomato? Well this tomato got the name ‘Fantome Du Laos’ for a reason. The story is, this old Laotian heirloom will glow in the dark when ghosts are near. Seriously, that’s the story! So I had to get it. Come on, a ghost sensing tomato? Tell me that’s not hilarious. So the name literally means ‘Ghost of Laos’. See, all those French classes went to some good use.
I’m starting to feel like a broken record here, but with the hard season we had, this plant was pretty diminutive this year. Now that’s not to say production was small (the plant was actually loaded with fruit), but the actual plant only got to 4ft. Maybe it’s only supposed to get to 4ft? I don’t know, there’s not much growth info available on the net, so I’m just going to assume that it didn’t grow large because of the weather. This is a regular leaf, indeterminate plant, and kept going right up until frost. Production was still really good for me, and the plant when put outside actually didn’t burn too badly, and bounced back very quickly, all within the span of about 1.5 weeks. Production was also good, getting about 4-4.5lbs on my one plant. The first three fruit of the season were big, about 4″ in diameter and weighing in at about 1lb each. Subsequent fruit was smaller, about 2-3″ in diameter, and about 170g (6 oz) to 283g (10oz) each. This tomato seemed quite resistant to heat, and water rationing. None of these fruit cracked, split, or had any sort of growth issues on the fruit at all. I had a whole batch of perfectly formed white fruit. It took about 85 days from transplant to harvest.
There’s no doubt about it, this is a beautiful tomato, and because of its colouring, quite unusual as well. Fruit is creamy white/very pale yellow, with white flesh, and darkens to slightly more off-white/pale yellow as it ripens. It definitely stands out in the tomato patch. Fruit ranges in shape from the more uniform oblate beefsteak tomato shape, to an irregular curved shape (like the photo illustrates at the top). There was absolutely no green shouldering, and colouring was quite uniform over the whole fruit.
Alright, so we’ve had great growth, and a great look. So how did it taste? Well, it’s a white tomato. Are you familiar with other white tomatoes? Ya, that’s pretty much how it tasted. There’s not a lot of flavour in this one. Add some salt and you get a bit more bang, and it does enhance the flavour a bit. The downfall of those beautiful white tomatoes is that they’re actually quite bland. If I ever find a white tomato that isn’t bland, I might just die of shock. Damn you ‘Fantome Du Laos’, I wanted you to taste as good as you looked! Why do you taunt me so?
Because of its lack of flavour, but its juicy content, this is really a fresh eating tomato. Don’t bother preserving it (or at least I didn’t). The great thing about these tomatoes is that they’re long keepers, which is really their main selling point. I had another grower tell me they successfully kept theirs in a cold area of the house until February! Mine didn’t quite make it that long, we ate the last one a month after it was picked, but it was still nice and fresh tasting. Now, no matter how bland a garden tomato is, it’s still better then those pieces-of-crap “tomatoes” you buy at the grocery store that actually taste like cardboard. So, even though it’s not full of flavour, it’s better then the alternative during those winter months when you can’t just run outside and pick fresh tomatoes.
The fact that this tomato grows so well, is quite hardy in my area, and is such a long keeper, makes this one worth growing again for me. I know, it doesn’t taste super awesome, but you know what? That’s okay. There are other benefits to this tomato. If it wasn’t a long keeper, I probably wouldn’t grow it again, but the fact that it does keep clinched it for me. I might try actually growing this one in a pot next year, I don’t know if I want to devote in-ground garden space to it, but we’ll see come next season.
Also, to tell you a truth, I’m still a sucker for the tomato that can detect ghosts. Move over EMF detectors, this tomato is the new wave in ghost hunting!
Originally posted @ Populuxe.ca in November, 2009