Love Apple, The Secret Cupid! Want To Have A Bite?
Image Credit: Tomatoes, Image Source: Pexels

What if I say that you have been using a common kitchen ingredient without knowing it has been that secret cupid conjuring all the love and passion in the food? No, it's not any exotic food item. Just look at those plum red vegetables, oops, fruits; you know them as tomatoes. That's their camouflaged avatar. In reality, they are Love Apples. Intrigued? Now you might relate to why you felt that rush of aphrodisiac when you had a bowl full of tomato soup. 

Decoding Love Apple

Given that they thought the exotic tomato had aphrodisiac properties, the French gave it the nickname "Love Apple," or pomme d'amour. These love apples may not be accountable for human passion but eating them appears to arouse a desire for more tomatoes. 

The first mention of the tomato in Europe dates back to 1544 when Italian herbalist Pietro Andrae Matthioli wrote about "pomi d'oro," or "golden apples." The term "golden" refers to the colour of the tomatoes, which were probably yellow when they arrived in Europe. Matthioli categorised them as related to the mandrake plant, i.e., known for its aphrodisiac properties. Mandrake was also linked to numerous deadly plants, including nightshade. Rachel and Leah created a love potion from mandrake roots in the book of Genesis. "Dudaim," the Hebrew term for mandrake, can be interpreted as either "love plants" or "love apples." So, we may say the aphrodisiac qualities of christened tomatoes as Love Apples.

Green tomatoes, Image Source: Pexels

There is another legend. This hypothesis relates to the tomato's transatlantic migration. Tomatoes were introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century; the Italians called them pomi d'oro. However, during this time, there were Moors in Spain. They brought the tomato back to Morocco and named it the "apple of the Moors," or pomi dei Mori. Once the French initially encountered the tomato, they dubbed it "pommes d'amour," or "apples of love." Was the label given to it accidentally, or was it a result of its connection to the mandrake plant? It's possible that "pommes d'amour" originated from "pomi dei Mori" or possibly "pomi d'oro" due to their similarities.

The name tomato and those intriguing tales

The tomato owes to the Aztecs. The dish and the English name, "tomato," are derived from the Aztec word "tomatl." According to an old NYTimes article titled: Food Oh Sweet Poison, among the earliest mentions of tomatoes in historical records describes how cannibalistic Aztecs served the red fruit as a side dish with human flesh as their entree. 

Tomatoes in different hues, Image Source: Pexels

Many people believed that tomatoes were harmful when they debuted in Europe. So, how did a meal thought to be lethal and affiliated with cannibalism develop the reputation as the love apple? For the reason that it was categorised with poisonous belladonna and nightshade.

What would you call it?

While English speakers use the word tomato, inspired by the Aztecs, Italians still enjoy a nice Pomodoro. In the meantime, would you instead choose the botanical name for the tomato? It is- Lycopersicon esculentum, which translates to "edible wolf peach". Whatever name you call it, there is still plenty to discover about this luscious fruit. 

The nightshade, or Solanaceae, family, which also contains eggplants, potatoes, tobacco, and peppers, includes tomatoes as a member. The tomato is culturally and legally a vegetable, even though it is a fruit according to the rules of botany. Everyone from connoisseurs to the U.S. Supreme Court has disputed this fruit vs vegetable issue, even schoolchildren. 

Hence, we leave you with the choice to call it whatever!