Are you a fruit or vegetable my irresistible tantalising Tomato
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I absolutely, unreservedly love eating tomatoes!!! Simply ask my husband and he’ll agree whole heatedly and even once remarked that my fondness for it reminded him of Gollum (Lord of the Rings) when he described to Sam how he likes his fish, an expression filled with uncontrollable zeal and enthusiasm! Now when I heard this, I of course pursed my lips and squinting my eyes playfully dared for him to continue on ‘with his little joke’. With a twinkle in his eye and upon his lips parting, I jumped in quickly and declared that if Gollum had been on a well-balanced diet with that little extra tomato on the side he wouldn’t have had that grey, lifeless appearance! Just look at what he ate or didn’t eat throughout the story! Do I think he would have liked tomatoes? I know he hated lembas (elven bread) and he could have believed that tomatoes were ‘poison apples’ (was it an apple that Snow White bit into or was it a tomato cleverly disguised?) as was given the name for nearly two hundred years! But how did this come about?
Between the seventeenth and nineteenth century, many wealthy Europeans used pewter plates which were high in lead content. Little did they suspect that by serving tomatoes (with its high acidity) on them that it would cause a chemical reaction resulting in lead poising! Such an injustice for the simple, mild manner and humble tomato, who on top of that was even classified as coming from the deadly nightshade, a poisonous family of Solanaceae (flowering plants, many of which are edible, while others are considered poisonous). Luckily, there were those who dared to be different and opposed the way that it was being treated declaring that it was instead an aphrodisiac. Thus the ‘poison apple’ became the ‘love apple’ (pomme d’amour).
Filled with a multitude of vitamins and the all famous and important inflammation-fighting and antioxidant lycopene which can help to prevent various forms of cancer begs me to ask…what is all the fuss about in labelling it a fruit or vegetable! For those determined to know, well…it’s both! Botanically it is a fruit (edible plant structure of a mature ovary of a flowering plant) but is considered a vegetable by cooks around the world as it is used in salads, starters and main dishes and not as a desert as it has a much lower sugar content than that found in other edible fruits. Hooray for those waists, hips and thighs as it is working for your well-being from within! What is even more remarkable is that tomatoes are also being used in skin, hair care products and fragrances! What more do I need to say to persuade you into loving these gems!
If you are, though, still sitting on the fence about them, why not go and enjoy one of the many world-wide festivals held in celebration of its existence, especially the ‘La Tomatina festival’ in Buñol (near Valencia). Here you will be able to experience tomatoes in their full glory. From the big, ribbed and meaty ones (now ladies control yourselves we’re talking about tomatoes here) to those voluptuous and firm ones (well we can’t exclude the guys from the pleasures exuberated by the tomato!). Colours…your choice from luscious red, vibrant orange, sunny yellow and even the mysterious blackish-purple! The best ones will always be vine ripened and the longer it stays on the vine the better it tastes! Cherry variety is a great example. Tearing it from its stem, popping it into your mouth and feeling the juices explode as you bite into it is such a heavenly delight!
So to avoid that ‘Attack of the Killer Tomatoes’ (as like everything else, there’s always that bad one in the bunch) grab those pots, pans, mixers, chopping boards and knives! Slice, dice, and pulverised those tomatoes and turn up your imagination and heat when you create those saucy, sizzling sauces, that scrumptious soup, the concentrated aromatic paste and when it gets too hot, create your own refreshingly chilled juice to rehydrate yourself. The tomato is there for you, anyway you like it! As for me, like Gollum, I like to have them refreshingly raw and riveting in a sandwich or salad!
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