The undefinable tomato. 

Poison or pleasure? Fruit or vegetable? Sweet or bitter? Sliced,diced,purade,stewed,sauced,stuffed, that well known fruit can be recognized in dishes all over the world, the distinctive red skin and flesh. But it was not always so.

During the Middle Ages and before, the tomato was a secret of the poor. A treasure of serfdom riches hidden by ignorance from greedy overlords. 

How, You ask?

Because in days gone by the tomato was equated with its closest cousin the dreaded, deadly nightshade. That’s right. The gentle fruit at the local grocery store is of the same family as the deadly fatal nightshade berry. No self respecting nobalman would dare risk their life over eating such a toxic item, and the peasants liked it that way and purple treated the myth, allowing them to cultivate and harvest the tomato in hidden places without it being taken as crop shares.

Think about that.

For generations, no nobleman ever tasted the sweet fruit of Europe out of fear. No pizza or spegetti sauce, no BLT, no little red chunks on a salad. How sad the life of the idle rich.

Dozens of variations on this fruit were grown across Europe. The red we see today everywhere was only a fragment of the variety. Zebra green, purple, orange, yellow,  just to name a few colours seen in heritage tomatoes. They vary in size from the candy sweet grape tomato to the massive meaty beefeater, and in shapes from round, to oval, to hollow pepper to mutant monster. Most of the variations are now lost, or regulated to specialty markets grown by a handful of farmers who obtain seeds that at one time some brave soul preserved seeds at risk of arrest.

Once the rich discovered they would not die by consuming the tomato, they began to market it and like any greedy company ruined it for everyone. They chose the tomato they felt was best, and forced their serfs to grow them exclusively, wasting field space on any other variation was frowned upon and likely to result in punishment. Like our modern banana the tomato was narrowly defined as red roundish and seeded.

Now more recently our new farm overlords have altered that even more by either making them seedless, or filled with useless sterilized seeds. 

The more we change, the more we stay the same.



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