Coming from the New World, the tomato makes its entry into Europe towards the middle of the 16th century. At first – and for more than a century – tomato was thought to be a poisonous plant and was then used as a decoration, as well as potato.
No one at the time expected the tomato to become a basic food still consumed in very large quantities: just try to think how many traditional recipes have the tomato among the main ingredients! Of course, without the tomato we would not have the chance to enjoy a good pizza, at least as we know it.
Tomato in Italy
Speaking about Italy, the tomato was introduced in 1596, also here as an ornamental plant; at the beginning it was spread to the North, then reached the South about twenty years later. In the south the climate was more favorable and the cultivation of this fruit spread widely; the poor and hungry people began to eat it: raw, cooked, fried or in sauce, the tomato conquered the south before the rest of Europe!
it was necessary to wait for Garibaldi and his expedition because the custom of eating tomatoes was also introduced in northern Italy.
The spread of tomato in Europe
In the rest of the European continent, tomato appeared as food only between the 17th and 18th centuries, when plagues and famines depleted the population even more than before. The lower classes, almost without wheat, had to find an alternative for eating and tomato began to be used to prepare soups. This new food also spread among the most prosperous classes: in France, for example, it was used to prepare foods considered aphrodisiacs.