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Posted on 03 May 2009 by tomatocasual.com

Scientific American Magazine Claims Heirloom Tomatoes are Feeble and Inbred

tomato3By Vanessa Richins

I was puzzled by an article I came across from Scientific American called, “How to Grow a Better Tomato: The Case against Heirloom Tomatoes”.

The article asserts that because of breeding over time, “Heirlooms are the tomato equivalent of the pug–that “purebred” dog with the convoluted nose that snorts and hacks when it tries to catch a breath,” and calls them “feeble and inbred.”

It claims that over time, humans have bred out disease resistance in the quest for bigger and better tasting heirloom tomatoes. They also assert that the flavor comes because heirlooms sometimes only produce 2 tomatoes, which naturally means that those two will have more flavor and size than a hybrid producing many fruits.

While there may be Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 29 June 2008 by tomatocasual.com

Italians Didn\’t Always Like Tomatoes – Part 2

By Michael Nolan

Picking up where we left off last time, we were talking about Vincenzo Corrado’s efforts with regard to tomatoes.

He recommended stuffing them with garlic, anchovy, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper, then sprinkling with bread crumbs and oil and baking them in the oven.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Okay, maybe not the anchovies…

The world’s first pizzeria would open in Naples in 1830, and two generations of pizza cooks (pizzaioli) would claim to have made pizza for Kings Ferdinand I and II which is likely, as Ferdinand I also Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 24 June 2008 by tomatocasual.com

Italians Didn\’t Always Like Tomatoes – Part 1

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By Michael Nolan

While thumbing through an old Italian cookbook that belonged to some long gone member of my family, I learned a great deal about the history of the tomato in the country that now considers the fruit a staple of daily life.

The most surprising thing I learned was that it wasn’t always that way.

The first time tomatoes were mentioned in Italy came from a 1557 translation of a text by the Greek physician Dioscoride. The description mentioned tomatoes turning from green to red and being eaten fried (like mushrooms) or juiced (for sauces).

In a letter to a pen pal dated March 10, 1572, Costanzo Felici wrote of the “Pomo d’oro or pomo del Peru…either intense yellow or vigorously red, either round or ridged in slices like a melon.”

He would go on to say that Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 12 June 2008 by tomatocasual.com

Deadly Tomatoes

By Kira Hamman

A few hundred years ago, people thought that tomatoes were poisonous.

Western people, that is, not the South Americans who had been eating them for several thousand years at that point.

Because tomatoes (along with potatoes, eggplant, and peppers, to name a few) belong to the Solanaceae family, which also includes plants like deadly nightshade, mandrake, and tobacco, it seems they suffered from guilt by association. And it’s true that tomato plants do bear a striking resemblance to some of those poisonous ones, so maybe people were wise to be cautious.

Nonetheless, Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 02 May 2008 by tomatocasual.com

“Wolf Peaches” and Other Strange Tomato Superstitions

Wolf PeachesBy Vanessa Richins

As with all good things in life, there are many superstitions connected to our beloved tomato.

Have you ever wondered why tomatoes were given the scientific name of Lycopersicon esculentum?

It stems from old German folklore. It was believed that members of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, were used by witches to produce werewolves.

This practice is known as lycanthropy. Indeed, the common German word for tomato translates to “wolf peach”. Linnaeus, the man who created the current scientific naming system of binomial nomenclature, recalled this legend and gave the tomato the name Lycopersicon esculentum.

This name translates to Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 19 February 2008 by tomatocasual.com

Once and For All: Is the Tomato a Fruit or Vegetable?

TomatoBy Michelle Fabio

It’s an age-old question that has even reached the Supreme Court of the United States–so what’s the answer?

If you’re having cocktails with a botanist, you’d best say that a tomato is most definitely scientifically a fruit, which are developed in the ovary of a flower along with its seeds. In this sense, there’s no question that the tomato is a fruit.

So where does the tomato’s reputation as a Read the rest of this entry »

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