ItĒs difficult to imagine that the tomato has not existed in Greece "since its birth". Tomatoes, Greek salad, summer, sea - all words that are synonymous in our minds with Greece. The truth is that only in the mid 16th century was the tomato brought to Europe by the Spanish explorers of the New World. LetĒs take a look at some interesting facts about the tomato.
- Tomato? The name and the fruit have both travelled extensively, but came originally from Peru.
Today, however, "tomatl" and similar sounding terms are the most common (English: tomato, Indonesia: tomat, Russian: TOMAT, French: tomate, Zulu: utamatisi) in contrast with those of Italian origin, pomodoro (Lithuanian: pomidoras, Polish: pomidor).
It is interesting to note that the Kurdish language has 4 words for tomato, including pamidor and tamate, and therefore contains both the Italian and Spanish forms. An interesting point regarding the verbal usage, with an expected underlying history regarding the Greek hesitation towards the term, concerns the Turkish form: domates and the Albanian term: domatja.
- The tomato is the fruit of the Lycopersicon esculentum plant, of the Solanaceae family. Eggplants, potatoes and tobacco are also members of the same family.
- The original wild variety probably produced bunches of small, cherry-sized fruits.
- The original suspicion of Europeans regarding the tomato was caused by its similarity with the Atropa belladonna (Belladonna) plant of the same Solanaceae family. Belladona or Atropos were known by the Ancient Greeks (Thephrastos-Atropos Moira) and were associated with the therapeutical, poisonous and psychotropic properties caused by the atropine present in the plant.
- Only the leaves of the tomato plant contain the alkaloid solanine, which is toxic for humans and animals. The same substance is found in tobacco and potato plant leaves.
- The distrust (almost certain) for the tomato plant can also be seen by its use in a murder "attempt" on the life of Abraham Lincoln. With the help of the Presidential chef, some of LincolnĒs opponents served him cooked tomatoes in the hopes of wiping him out. Of course, nothing happened to Lincoln.
- In the 18th century, Linnaeus assigned the name "wolf peach", leading to its Latin name, Lycopersicon.
- There have been approximately 12,000 tomato varieties in existence worldwide.
- There are treasured varieties which are exceptional with regards to flavor and are known internationally as "heirloom tomatoes".
- From the moment of planting, 60-100 days are needed until the tomatoes can be harvested. The variety we cultivate needs a little bit longer.
- Picked green tomatoes will turn red if left in a warm, sunny environment. However, they wonĒt have the same flavor as vine-ripened tomatoes.
- The red color in tomatoes comes from lycopene, which is the same substance responsible for the red color in watermelon.
- Canning tomatoes started approximately in 1920.
- An average-sized tomato, about 200 g, has 40 calories.