“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit;
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
How did the Tomato get such a bad reputation?
The story of a tomato, fact, fiction, fables, quotes and poetry feature the Tomato!
Tomato, unfairly treated due to the lack of knowledge; its structure, and similarities as to the deadly nightshade.
It had a bad reputation for 200 years.
It has become one of the most misunderstood fruit and unfairly treated until it found the fruit is non-poisonous.
The Tomato can be traced back to the early 700AD, at the time of the Aztecs.
During the 16th century, tomatoes were introduced into Europe, used in kitchens, and became well-known for its beauty.
As we know today, tomatoes are well known for their high acid content, but when it came into contact with pewter plates of the rich, they were poisoned with lead poisoning, leading to death. The poor people, however, were fortunate indeed, because they could not afford pewter plates, they ate from wooden plates which did not cause a reaction to the acidity of Tomatoes. It wasn’t until the 1800s when people started to eat tomatoes without fear.
In the beginning, tomatoes were in the Solanum family of the deadly nightshade plant. In 1692 Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, in 1696 disputed the Tomato as belonging to this family, and instead, he accepted the general Classification Solanaceae. So, why did he disagree with the name Solanum? His main reason for doing so was to do with the fruit of the Tomato, it was different. Tomatoes had more inner divisions than was customary in those plants. So the Tomato got its new family name as Solanaceae and its Classification called Lycopersicon meaning “wolf peach”.
What is the relationship between a tomato and deadly nightshade?
Because deadly nightshade and tomatoes are similar in appearance, What sets them apart? All Solanaceae family are flowering plants, some edible, and others not. Both have woody stem growth, a climbing vine, that is tough. Flowers are similar both have five sharply pointed peaks. The colour of the flowers is what sets them apart. Deadly nightshade flowers are purple or white, and tomatoes are yellow.
The fruits are almost identical. Both tomatoes and nightshade berries start as light green colour in the fruit. And as the fruit ripens, they progress from green to golden yellow, then to pale orange and finally a deep red.
All parts of the tomato plant are poisonous, except the fruit, yet it was once known as the “poison apple” or the “golden apple”.
How better to understand why a Tomato features in fiction?
Can reading fiction provide us with a better understanding of a tomato? Is the life of tomato that remarkable? Does fiction teach us not to fear eating Tomato? Or do we fear factual information on “Transgenic tomato?” because of changes made to its genes through genetic engineering?
Why does writing about a Tomato fascinate authors?
My understanding is that the author focuses on the Tomato as it represents the “apple of love”, blood, poison and death. The Tomato is also the hero in the tale of love, laughter, mystery, friendship, loyalty and secrets. It feeds the author’s head with ‘sensual images”!
Pomodoro Technique for writing
Many authors write ‘using the Pomodoro Technique to write’ it’s a technique developed by Francesco Cirillo. It helps authors with their writing projects in twenty-five-minute slots, using a mechanical tomato! Why not just a simple timer?
Novels and tomatoes
In the novel “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon. She says “Tomatoes are thirsty plants…lots of water…set fruit in spring and autumn…summer is too hot, winter too cold.”
I wonder if this is the real reason why my tomatoes struggled. After all, I did plant them in Autumn, and we had that cold snap.
Writing love stories about tomatoes come from the heart. Some are funny, joyful and many contain treasured memories. One such book comes to mind about a man who wanted a perfect garden “Tomato Rhapsody” by Adam Schell. The story is about love, lust and the forbidden fruit of the Tomato.
Websites Blogs and Facebook
Even on Facebook, there is a site called the “Hungry Tomato for children”! It’s a place where children prefer facts to fiction,
“17 Tomatoes” can ‘release forgotten memories’, says Gary Ibsen who called his Blog “Tomato Love Stories. He organised a competition requesting the pubic to present a story about a tomato. He published these in his blog and picked out the best. The winner received a gift.
Another similar story title that I came across was also called “Tomato love Stories” by Mallika Nocco in 2018 on plantlovestories.com She wrote a blog about her father in India and his love for a tomato grown in India.
Even children’s books written by authors seem to star the Tomato like the one in “Tom the Tomato Plant’ by Izabella Green. It’s about a farmer and some tomato seeds. It was impossible to read the whole book because it was a sample book. If I wanted to read the rest, I had to purchase it.
Tomatoes featured in fables describe the reaction to the human body, and the blood would turn into acid if you ate the Tomato, and the seeds of a Tomato said to be an aphrodisiac. These do not portray the idealism “apple of love.”
Tomatoes in Poetry
Poems about Tomatoes found on the web at various sites below; contain lyrics about the Tomato:
All Poetry Tomato Poems contains poetry on the web at
Words without Borders “On the Tomato” by Guillermo Saavedra
As we can see, the Tomato started life with a bad reputation because of mistaken identity, misunderstandings, and death. The identification between Tomato and deadly nightshade as identical plants must have been catastrophic for the rich during that era. The poor would not have been too concerned as no one seem to have died from the fruit of the Tomato.
Even today, there is still a fascination with using the Tomato as a feature or a prop for books such as the cover full of tomatoes to describe what is ongoing within the themes of death, poison, love, mystery and friendship.
I leave you with a quote from David Letterman, who shows us that the tomato is still a victim. Its know wonder authors write about our beloved Tomato.
“You can’t eat tomatoes because they’re tainted with deadly salmonella.
First, there was tainted lettuce, now tainted tomatoes.
Who would have thought that the healthiest part of a B.L.T. would be the bacon?“
I hope you enjoyed reading my article on the Tomato Story. If you have any questions, or wish to share information on this topic, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.