Columbian Exchange

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World History 12
September 28, 2012
Columbian Exchange
The tomato was originally cultivated by the Aztecs in Central America, and has historic origins that can be traced back to around 700 A.D. They were also known to be native to western South America. It was during the 16th century that the Europeans were introduced to this fruit when the early explorers set tail to discover new lands. In 1519, Cortez brought tomato seeds back to Europe where they planted as ornamental curiosities but didn’t eat them. The first tomatoes that reached to Europe weren’t the typical red tomatoes that we see today. They were yellow in color, and therefore were named as yellow or golden apples. It was a pale fruit with an acid flavor and unpleasant smell that does not look very appetizing. Italy was the first to embrace and cultivate the tomato in Europe. It was the caring hands of Italian gardeners that improved the American tomato and turned it into the vivid, plump, thin-skinned fruit. Sicilians discovered that tomato sauces were a good complement to pasta and pizzas and provided more color and flavor than the traditional butter or olive oil dressings. Throughout Southern Europe, the tomato was quickly accepted into the kitchen, yet as it moved north, more resistance was apparent. The fact that Europeans did not know how to prepare them and that they bore no resemblance to foods already in their diets made their acceptance more difficult and they also found the tomato difficult to prepare. It was too acrid to eat in its green stage but when it ripened, it appeared to be spoiled, and when cooked it disintegrated. They finally adopted the Aztec technique of grinding it into a puree. The British admired the tomato for its beauty but believed it was poisonous because of its appearance being similar to the wolf peach. The tomato was eaten in soups in England in the 1750s and is mentioned in the famous English cookbook of 1758. By the 1780s, tomato sauce was widely used in England....
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