History of Tomato
Native to South America and Central America, tomato has spread throughout the world and is now one of the most widely used and valued food sources in the world. In the beginning tomato was thought as poisonous and was not eaten. It was only planted as an ornament in gardens.
The French botanist Tournefort gave the Latin botanical name for tomato, which is Lysopersicon esculentum. In English, this translates to “wolfpeach.” So named because the glossy red plant shared the same round and luscious characteristic of peach. The wolf part in the name refers to its mistaken characteristic of being poisonous. The name was actually derived from the third century writing by Galen who described “wolfpeach” as a poison that looked palatable, and was used to deceive and destroy wolves. It was also because of the fact that tomato is part of the deadly nightshade family of plants and that is why it was thought to be poisonous. Its leaves remain inedible, however.
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Arrival in Europe
In 1519, Cortez was enamored with the tomatoes growing in the gardens in Montezuma and brought seeds of the beautiful red fruit to Europe. They were planted in gardens but were considered an ornament and were not eaten.
The English word “tomato” is derived from the Spanish word “tomate,” which in turn is derived from the Nahuatl or Aztec word, “tomatl.” The first known appearance of the word in print was in 1595. In France, tomato was referred to as “pommes d’amour” or love apples, as they were thought to be an aphrodisiac. In Spain and Italy, they were known as “pomi d’oro” or yellow apples, since probably the variety of tomatoes growing in those regions at that time were color yellow.
In 1897, Joseph Campbell introduced condensed tomato soup sold in cans. This increased the popularity of tomatoes and entered the era of mass consumption and large-scale industrial production of tomato.