While Italy is now famous for its use of the red tomato on pizzas and pastas, the food was introduced the country relatively recently. A historian on how we all came to love the tomato. “In his new book, ‘Pomodoro! A History of the Tomato in Italy,’ [British history professor David] Gentilcore traces the tomato from its origins in the New World, where it was domesticated by the Maya, then cultivated by the Aztecs. It likely entered Europe via Spain, after conquistador Hernan Cortes’s conquest of Mexico. When it arrived on the scene in Italy, it was strictly a curiosity for those who studied plants—not something anyone faint of heart would consider eating. In 1628, Paduan physician Giovanni Domenico Sala called tomatoes ‘strange and horrible things’ in a discussion that included the consumption of locusts, crickets, and worms.”
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