One of the most consumed veggies in the world is the tomato. Tomatoes are a fruit, certainly, and they have been for thousands of years.
Some people have an obsession with Italy, such as Eva Del Soldato, a professor of romance languages at the University of Pennsylvania and a resident of Philadelphia. However, Italian food did not always revolve around tomatoes.
Although they form the foundation of a favorite fast food and a common ingredient in pizza, tomatoes weren't historically so widely consumed. Few people wanted to touch it when Spanish conquistadors brought it to Italy over 500 years ago. Some even believed it to be toxic.
Thankfully, people who had a taste of it fell in love. And although though less surface area has been planted for tomato cultivation recently, Italy nevertheless produces and processes more tomatoes than any other nation.
This is due to Italy's dominance in the processing and importation of completed goods, such as canned foods and tomato paste. Although it is no longer the world leader in fresh tomato exports, it still holds that position. This deterioration has a multifaceted cause. That being said, Italians continue to enjoy flavors that are potent and intense. Their preoccupation with oregano and basil, which go well with fruit, is an example of this.
States of America
Although they are technically fruits, tomatoes are regarded as vegetables by most people. It's very remarkable how something that migrated from South America a few centuries ago managed to find its way into so many different culinary traditions. Italians are passionate about sauces, and the French refer to them as pommes d'amour, or "love apples." However, it was Joseph Campbell, the soup tycoon, who popularized condensed tomato soup in 1897 that first won over Americans to the tomato.
Potassium, vitamin C, and folate are found in tomatoes. Folate protects the heart by controlling homocysteine, an amino acid that raises the risk of a heart attack. Additionally, they provide an extensive range of phytonutrients, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
It's difficult to recall a time when tomatoes weren't seen as healthful because they are so frequently used in pizza, hamburgers, chili, soups, and tikka masala. However, tomatoes were thought to be deadly toxic berries for two centuries. Not everyone enjoys the juicy red spheres, despite their wonderful and nutritional nature.
Despite having their origins in the Andes, the tomato (scientific name Solanum lycopersicum) was first tamed and incorporated into Aztec cuisine. The juicy, somewhat acidic flavor of the tomato was perfect to cut through the heat of the Mexican cuisine. The Old World took a little longer to embrace tomatoes, but once they did, world cuisines changed forever. Today, dishes like pizza, lasagna, ratatouille, and Caprese salad would not have been possible without this adaptable vegetable.
China is the world's biggest producer of tomatoes, but since they are grown in so many greenhouses, the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang province also consume a lot of them. The top three countries for consumption are Egypt, Turkey, and India, with India's per capita consumption increasing over time. Italy is without a doubt the top exporter of processed tomatoes, including ketchup and canned tomatoes, with Mexico and the Netherlands following closely behind.
When you picture tomatoes, you might picture the flavorful red sauces from Italy or maybe the popular American condiment ketchup. However, neither of those locations is the leading tomato grower in the world.
Indeed, a province in China—more precisely, the Xinjiang region, home to the Uyghur Muslim population—produces over 70% of the nation's tomatoes because of its extensive network of government-funded greenhouses. The fruit is consumed by the locals in a filling stew known as dapanji.
Globally, tomato consumption is increasing, but at a slower rate than in previous years. This can be attributed in part to shifting consumer preferences as well as economic concerns.
Almost always, tomatoes at the grocery store are plucked green and then gassed with ethylene to ensure a smooth ripening process. This is due to the fact that tomatoes must reach the market before they go bad, and it takes a long time for the plant to grow and mature sufficiently to be picked.