tomato history - the evil origin
Originally cultivated by the famously blood thirsty Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 A.D., the tomato is native to the Americas. The Spanish explorer Cortez conquered the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, later to be renamed Mexico City, in 1521. It is presumed that the tomato found its' way across the Atlantic shortly after. When explorers brought back seed to Europe from Mexico.
The name "tomato" derives from "tomatl," its name in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec people. The English form "tomate" first appeared in the 17th century, and was later modified to "tomato," probably under the influence of the more familiar "potato." Most of these early fruits were yellow, and became known as "manzanas" (apples) and "pomi d'oro" (apple of gold). They were considered poisonous but appreciated for their beauty.
tomatoes are evil and deadly
As the tomato arrived in Europe the plant became associated with poisonous members of the Solanceae family, specifically henbane, mandrake and deadly nightshade, to which it bore more than a passing resemblance.
Deadly nightshade is a poisonous plant which has been used as both a hallucinogenic drug and a beauty aid in different parts of Europe. The Latin name "belladonna" means beautiful woman, in the medieval courts of Europe ladies would apply a few drops of nightshade extract to their eyes to dilate their pupils, a look considered most fashionable at the time.
The hallucinogenic properties of the plant, comprised of visions and the sense of flying. This most led to the association of the nightshade family with witchcraft.
German folklore claims that witches used plants like mandrake and nightshade to summon werewolves, a practice known as lycanthropy. The common German name for tomatoes translates to "wolf peach", and because of this it was universally avoided. In the 18th century the tomato species was named Lycopersicon esculentum, which literally means, "edible wolf peach".
Despite it's association with Witches and the Black Arts, early efforts to peddle the tomato were not highly successful. Even in one of America's towns most associated with Witchcraft - the hamlet of Salem, Massachusetts a painter hoping to make a little extra money selling the fruit had difficulty even convincing people to taste the red fruit.
The Tomatoes connection with bloodshed continued in Europe. During the French Revolution in 1783the patriotic Republican citizens of Paris who wore the Red Cap as a mark of faith in the Republic.
While thier main aim was beheading aristcrats they still had to eat. They were addressed on one occasion by a zealous chef who suggested that the faithful should eat red food to demonstrate their devotion to the revolution.
The Tomato was known to be popular in various southern parts of the continent but was not recommended by the French Aristocracy, making it the perfect mascot for the blood thirsty hordes.
It quickly became the fruit of choice to the Republican masses and came to be served as stewed side dishes and as summer salads.
On September 26th, 1830, Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson stood on the steps of the courthouse in Salem, New Jersey with a basket of potentiallytoxic fruit. Despite warnings that its poison would turn his blood to acid, he told several hundred cheering spectators that he planned to eat the entire basket - and survive.
"The foolish Colonel will foam and froth at the mouth," his own doctor shouted, "and double over with appendicitis. All that oxalic acid - one dose and he is dead. He might even be exposing himself to brain fever. Should he by some unlikely chance survive his skin will stick to his stomach and cause cancer."
Johnson, wearing black, ate the entire basket and indeed survived. The source of this story was an old farm journal, and may be less than reliable. If it is true, he was lucky those fruit were Tomatoes which asthe evidence shows are Evil.
tomatoes - a pop history
In 1897, Joseph Campbell came up with the idea of condensed tomato soup - by reducing water in the tin, storage and shipping costs were reduced.
Campbell's soup packaging later became iconic when Andy Warhol used the image in more than 100 pop-art works.
According to art myth: Andy Warhol's mother served him tomato soup for lunch for twenty years which was why he painted tomato soup cans.
Andy Warhol was known for dissolving the boundaries between high and low culture: he used silkscreening techniques to mechanically reproduce consumer images such Campbell's soup cans.
Also in 1978 sci-fi flick Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was released, so sucessful was this characterising of the evil fruit that a sequel was later made.
In 1948 Tomato juice is combined with other juices in V8 Vegetable juice which was acquired by Campbell's. It advertised it, using movie actor Ronald Reagan as a spokesman, among others.In 1981, the USDA chairman declared ketchup to be a vegetable in order to justify Reagan administration budget cuts in the school lunch program.
President Nixon covered his cottage cheese with Tomato Ketchup.
Superstition once had it that placing ripe tomatoes on a mantel when first entering a new dwelling would guarantee future prosperity or will ward off evil spirits
Pincushions the color and shape of ripe tomatoes were used instead if ripe tomatoes were not available. To this day, pincushions are most often red.
Nurserymen use tomato seedlings the way miners use canary birds. The seedlings cannot survive the smallest amounts of natural gas, so they're placed in greenhouses to warn of leaking gas heaters.
According to the 1996 edition of the Guiness Book of Records the largest tomato ever grown weighed in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces.
Tomatoes are used in many food products, including of course, tomato sauce, ketchup, pasta and pizza. According to a Steel Packing Council survey of 1997, 68% of chefs use canned tomatoes for convenience, quality and flavoring.
There are many different recipes for tomato sauce and every Italian family has its favorite. No two tomato sauces are identical. This is reflected in the Sicilian expreseeion: "He is always different, like a sauce."
The word ketchup is derived from the Chinese ke-tsiap, a pickled fish sauce. It became kechap and ketjap in Indonesia. Seventeenth century English sailors first discovered the delights of this Chinese condiment and brought it west. Ketchup was first mentioned in print around 1690. It went through various changes, including the addition of tomatoes in the 1700s.
Cherry, Plum, Beef, Sundried, Green,
Organic or home grown;
all TOMATOES ARE EVIL