• Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

Terrifying Tomatoes! Europeans Were Afraid of Newly Introduced ‘Poisonous Apples’


Nov 3, 2022

Everybody has a buddy who hates tomatoes. However do you know that this worry or hatred of tomatoes is nothing new? Utilized in pizza, pasta and even gazpacho, the ever present tomato is related to Italy and Mediterranean cooking. However when tomatoes first arrived in Europe within the sixteenth century, they have been the reason for worry and trepidation.

Tomatoes originated within the South American Andes, the place they existed as a small wild plant. On the time they seemed little like those we all know and love at the moment, being nearer to a cherry tomato, yellowish in coloration and much much less candy.

Historians are usually not certain precisely when tomatoes reached Europe. Having plundered South America, Spain’s conquistadors fastidiously recorded the quantity of gold and silver that reached Seville, however there is no such thing as a point out of tomato seeds. Historians consider they arrived across the time of Hernan Cortes . The identify got here from the Aztec prefix tomatl, that means “spherical fruit.”

When tomatoes first reached Europe, they have been seen as unique decorative vegetation. They have been additionally related to lethal nightshade, thanks partially to the Italian herbalist, Pietro Andrae Matthioli, who labelled it as “golden apple” within the first written report of the tomato from 1544. This generated biblical associations for the tomato as a harmful supply of temptation, which remained for a number of a long time.

Nonetheless life with onions and tomatoes by Catherine M. Wooden. ( Public domain )

It was solely within the 1600s that Europeans began consuming tomatoes, and that was in Spain’s Andalucia, the place they have been cooked Aztec-style with oil and chilies. Italians weren’t impressed. Not sure of which half to eat, they remained unpopular and uneaten in Italy, in line with William Alexander within the aptly titled Unhealthy, Smelly, and Strange: Why Italians Avoided Tomatoes for Centuries .

Tomatoes gained a repute within the 1700s as a toxic fruit, a lot that they have been nicknamed poisoned apples. Effectively-to-do Europeans have been within the behavior of consuming off pewter dishes, made with a excessive focus of lead. “As a result of tomatoes are so excessive in acidity, when positioned on this explicit tableware, the fruit would leach lead from the plate, leading to many deaths from lead poisoning,” explains Smithsonian Magazine .

Once they have been first eaten in Italy, it was solely by essentially the most adventurous and the earliest recipe for tomato sauce was printed as late as 1694. In accordance How We Fell in Love with Italian Food , the tomato was excellent for the poor as a result of it may simply be preserved and saved. By the mid 18th century it was getting used extensively as food and the nineteenth century noticed it added to pasta and even Spanish gazpacho, earlier than conquering the remainder of the world.

Prime picture: Europeans have been fearful of tomatoes after they have been first launched. Supply: humanissa_rt / Adobe Inventory

By Cecilia Bogaard

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