We know tomatoes to be a staple of Italian cuisine, but it was the Aztecs and other South American cultures who had been eating them as far back as 700 A.D. Surprisingly, the popular vegetable (actually classified as a fruit) did not arrive in Western Europe, specifically Italy, until mid-sixteenth century. Europeans viewed them as poisonous, and when they took up residency in America around 1824, it was because of Thomas Jefferson’s vegetable garden. So how did this wildly popular vegetable become one of the most beloved ingredients in so many cuisines the world over? It’s a long story.

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