Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 | crankit

What did the Italians eat before Columbus?

Lycopersicon esculentum


The tomato is a member of the nightshade family originating from western South America. The early Aztecs of Mexico considered the tomato a ìhealthî food and reverently offered it to their gods of healing. Europeans shunned it, initially, suspicious of its shiny bright colours. Today itís hard not to imagine a lot of European food without tomatoes (especially Italian!)

The origins of tomato ketchup start in the 17th century by the Chinese. Made from fish entrails, vinegar and spices the tangy potion, ketsiap, was used mainly on fish. Exported to Malaya where it was called kechap, the strange puree was sold to English sailors in the early 18th century. Back in England, it caught on quickly ñ the English cooks substituted mushrooms for the fish entrails. The first printed recipe in 1792 called it catsup and included tomatoes as an ingredient. Henry Heinz was the first to use the term ketchup when he started advertising the product in the early 1900s. Today, tomatoes are the second most eaten vegetable in the world, after potatoes.

Source of

Vitamins C and E, potassium, beta-carotene, lycopene.

Good for

Protection against cancer, skin problems, fertility and heart protection. Is a natural antiseptic. Raw tomato is especially effective in reducing liver inflammation due to hepatitis and cirrhosis. Tomatoes can potentially interfere with calcium metabolism and thus large quantities should not be consumed on a regular basis.

Organic vs Non-organic

Chemical residues are found on a high proportion of tomatoes. Non-organic versions are often grown hydroponically. Fungicides and many other chemicals are used on crops.

The more interesting varieties of tomato are usually grown organically and offer much better flavour, smell and nutritional quality.