Take a second to imagine a world without tomato. Ketchup wouldn’t exist, hamburgers and hot dogs just wouldn’t be the same, and entire culinary traditions would be radically different.
Italian cuisine, for example, owes a lot of its character to its masterful use of tomato and a lot of typical foods, like Spanish Gazpacho, call for tomatoes as their main ingredient.
What many people don’t know is that this fruit (yes, technically it’s a fruit) was first cultivated in Mexico, where it remains an essential part of a culinary tradition that is well-known around the world for its bold combination of flavors.
Tomato Was First Cultivated in Mexico
The name of tomato itself and its equivalent terms in other languages tell the story of this amazing product. “Tomato” comes from nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs, where “tomatl” means “fat, or thick object”. Tomato was unknown to Europeans, who adopted the term or opted to describe it by comparing it to other well-known fruits or vegetables (for example, in Italian tomato is called “pomodoro”, which means “golden apple” or “golden fruit” .)
At first, rich Europeans were reluctant to eat tomato due to concerns that it might be toxic. The poor, however, couldn’t afford to be picky and demonstrated that this peculiar Mexican product was both safe to eat and delicious. Believe it or not, the first printed tomato recipe didn’t appear until 1694 (it was included in the book Lo Scalco alla Moderna, by Italian chef Antonio Latini.) It’s hard to imagine that it took so long for the world to discover tomatoes!
Tomato, an Undeniable Success
Maybe it took some time for tomato to gain acceptance in Europe, but the success was undeniable. Tomatoes are so versatile, delicious, and easy to prepare that global cuisine wouldn’t be the same without them. Pizza, Caprese salad, Lasagna, and Ratatouille are some of the iconic dishes that wouldn’t exist without tomatoes.
Of course, this applies to Mexican food as well. Tomato is everywhere in Mexico, particularly in the many salsas that add freshness and flavor to all sort of dishes. According to some, tomato is so popular in Mexico because it offers a counterbalance to the spiciness of chili peppers. If that’s true, then tomatoes are one of the basic elements of Mexican food as we know it. The spiciness is there to command attention, but it only works when framed by the juicy flavor of tomato.
Learn More About Mexican Food
Interested in learning more about Mexican food and its global impact? You are in the right place! Check these other posts to read more amazing stories about Mexican food.
Mexican carne asada is a way of life
Learn more about tacos with these 3 delicious facts
Tortilla, the humble star of Mexican cuisine
Mesquite, a symbol of Mexican culture
Why are chili peppers so important to Mexican cuisine
Enjoy Authentic Mexican Food at El Pollo Norteño
At El Pollo Norteño we appreciate Mexican Food for its rich cultural heritage and its amazing flavor.
Visit today any of our four locations (Anaheim, Santa Ana and Garden Grove), order online, get in touch through Facebook, or call 866-MI-POLLO to enjoy our authentic Mexican dishes: tacos, burritos, tortas, birria, our amazing chicken grilled to perfection over real Mesquite charcoal, and more!