Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tomatoes - Anyone!

I believe Tomato, today happens to be the most popular vegetable in our country too!!
Not a single day passes without it in any kitchen!

Either it is Sambar or Rasam, it should contain Tomatoes.
North Indian dishes are not different!

How many know that not long back, they were not available in India?
It is recent import!
Like the ubiquitous Chillies, Tomatoes also have come from abroad and overtaken all the other native vegetables!!

Here are some interesting facts about them!!

• The first tomato plants were planted in Greece by a Friar Francis in 1818, in the gardens of a Capuchin monastery at the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates (built in 335 B.C.) in Athens.

• The tomato is native to the Americas. It was initially cultivated by Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 A.D. Europeans first saw the tomato when the Conquistadors reached Mexico and Central America in the 16th century. Tomato seeds were taken back to Europe where they quickly found favor in the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Portugal and Italy.

• As the tomato traveled north, it was veiled in mystery. The French called it “The Apple of Love,” the Germans “The Apple of Paradise;” but the British, while admiring its brilliant red color, disclaimed the tomato as a food--they believed it was poisonous. This same fear persisted among colonists in the United States until the early 19th century; but in 1812, the Creoles in New Orleans put their cooking on the map with their tomato-enhanced gumbos and jambalayas. The people of Maine quickly followed suit, combining fresh tomatoes with local seafood.

• Did you know that the tomato, also called "wolf peach" and "devil apple," was once thought to be poisonous, and that people believed it caused brain fever and stomach cancer? It was not until Colonel Robert Johnson stood on the courthouse steps in Salem, NJ, and ate a whole bushel of yellow tomatoes to prove to ignorant people that the tomato was tasty and edible, that people realized the truth about the tomato. This also began a thriving business in tomato-growing in southern NJ. One of the first companies to make soup out of the tasty fruit was one with the name of Campbell. Sound familiar?

• It would appear the tomato originated in Peru, although there is no cultural evidence to support it having played an important role in diet. Most evidence supports the theory that domestication of the tomato took place in Central America.

• It is likely that tomatoes were introduced to the Old World via the Mediterranean. The earliest mention of them was in the mid 1500s. In France the tomato was known as the pomme d'amour (love apple) The English remained skeptical of the tomato since its leaves closely resembled that of the poisonous nightshade. In fact, the colonists brought the tomato back to the Americas as an ornamental plant.

Can anyone add information about how Tomato reached India?

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