Wednesday, November 09, 2005

You say tomato I say tamato

Last night, J and I debated the nature of tomatoes: vegetable or fruit.

I know, I know. Its a fruit. All the botanists say so. But really, all of us remember the first time someone told us tomatoes where actually fruits. We all assumed that they were vegetables.

Why are they fruits?Because a bunch of scientists got together and created categories of plants based on discrete characteristics because they felt it would help them understand plant life and based on these characteristics, tomatoes feel into the fruit category.

Lets not forget that these categories are man-made conventions for aiding horticulture. We are not talking about rules of nature akin to gravity and the speed of light. Since so few of us are botanists, I suggest we not be held back by their conventions.

It may help scientists to classify the tomato as a fruit but my interaction with tomatoes is defined by the eating of them. So here are my rules for distinguishing between fruit and vegetables.

Fruit are found in deserts. Vegetables are found in salads and side dishes. Like all rules these are not inviolable. But notice that when a salad is composed of apples and pears and grapes it is called a fruit salad. When apples and raisins are added to an otherwise vegetably salad it is noticed because it is different (and tasty, I might add). And although I cannot remember the last time I saw this, I suspect that when vegetables are included in a desert it would also give us pause.

So back to the tomato. It is commonly found in salads with out drawing notice or name changes and it is not often seen in deserts. When I look to eat a tomato, it is a vegetable.

That said, I have seen and eaten and enjoyed tomato sorbet although not presented as a desert. So perhaps those pesky scientists have a bit of a point.

I guess I'd be willing to stipulate to the tomato as a fruity vegetable. But please don't make me any tomato cobblers.

Anti-Allergic [Reply]

Greeting. As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.
I am from Dominican and learning to write in English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: "Find the right expert or researcher in."

With best wishes 8-), Agnes.

Comment by Agnes (06/09/2009 18:24)


This whole thing sound fruity to me!

As far as making a cobbler...well not for lack of trying apparently:,1737,152190-235202,00.html

Comment by Armchair quarterback (12/15/2006 15:54)


Of course by having this discussion you've surrendered taxonomy to the heathens. Once you do that talking about whether something is a fruit or a vegetible is meaningless (Not that is was full of meaning before).

You're pretty much limited to calling most such things edible vegitation now.

Comment by ToddK (12/15/2006 15:54)


Okay-let's deal in facts here. We didn't debate, there is nothing to debate. A tomato is a fruit, you can't debate facts.

I'm unwilling to settle for fruity vegetable, it's a fruit.

Comment by Jodi (12/15/2006 15:54)

SCOTUS [Reply]

I believe that the Supreme Court ruled that the tomato is considered a vegitable for the purpose of international trade. I'm not sure of the specific case though. And let's not forget that the Gipper taught us all that ketchup is a vegitable. Ketchup is made from tomatos, so it stands to reason that they're vegitables too.

As for salads.... It's not called a "Waldorf Fruit Salad", it's just called a "Waldorf Salad". Similar deal with Ambrosia--marshmellows, mandarin orange wedges, and coconut. Maybe the fruit salad rule only applies when there are no nuts in the salad. Personally, I look for four things in a salad: leafy greens, fruit, nuts, and cheese. I highly recommend apple-walnut-gorganzola over field greens with a balsamic vinaigrette!

Comment by McCoy (12/15/2006 15:54)

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