The tomato is native to the Americas, originally cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas and distributed by the Spanish throughout their colonies and also brought to Europe, where it grew easily in the Mediterranean climates.
Nowadays millions of people around the world eat tomatoes, from the raw form in salads to cooked and turned into sauces in their pizzas! It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like it. And the best new is: tomato is excellent for our health! It has lycopene, an anti oxidant that gives tomatoes their lovely rich red color and helps remove free radicals from the body. If you don’t remember, free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules and have been implicated in cancer and other serious diseases. So go ahead, have some tomatoes and to get a better effect, eat them with some olive oil, which helps the body absorb the lycopene.
The only downside is that sometimes tomatoes doesn’t taste like they’re suppose to, we get frustrated and end up forgetting about them. The lack of taste happens because producers do cross-pollination with plants that have potential for mass production and end up producing hybrids. The results are fruits that look nice, are uniformly sized, have durable skin and rot resistance. But flavor, however, is pretty low on the list of requirements. To worsen the problem many are picked immature to minimize the chance of bruising, then are treated with ethylene gas to accelerate ripening and when that happens the flavors don’t get fully developed.
I was very disappointed with the tomatoes when I met the heirloom! I remember as if it was yesterday… I was doing my externship in an Italian restaurant and I was used to deal with the average fresh fruit or canned type when one day I saw these weird kinds of tomatoes. The chef came to me and said “see these tomatoes? They’re special, very tasty, they call them heirloom…” They tasted so good, that was love on the first bite! But it took me a little research to know what it was about…
First the word heirloom… simple: “a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations”. Ok, and I’ve learned that “an heirloom tomato is a plant that's been handed down from one family member to another for several generations. An heirloom is generally a plant that's survived the test of time and produced an abundance of tomatoes with great flavor. A romantic tale says that emigrants to North America could only bring their most precious belongings when leaving their native towns and villages for the voyage ahead. For many the luggage would contain the seeds of their most-favored plants. From these seeds grew the unusual varieties that are today known as heirlooms”. Or the real delicious deal!