Tomato, the pre-Hispanic fruit that Mexico gave to the world

The tomato is one of the most used fruits in international gastronomy, essential for cuisines such as Italian or Mexican. Its origin is located from Mexico to South America, however, its domestication occurred in our country. The Mexica knew it as xīctomatl, a Nahuatl word that means “fruit with a navel”. The Aztecs and other cultures of Mesoamerica used the tomato in their cooking since before the arrival of the colonizers. Although it is not known when it was domesticated, it is estimated that it happened in 500 BC.

There is archaeological evidence that the green tomato, which is used in many Mexican sauces, was used in pre-Hispanic cuisine. This suggests that the tomato also had a strong roots among indigenous peoples.

For his part, the chronicler Bernal Díaz del Castillo, author of the book: The true story of the New Spain Conquest (La verdadera historia de la Conquista de la Nueva España) says that during his trip from Veracruz to Tenochtitlán, the indigenous people of Cholula wanted to kill and eat them. About this, he mentions: “They had pots ready with peppers, tomatoes, and salt.” This confirms the presence of the tomato in pre-Hispanic cuisine.

For the second half of the 16th century, Francisco Hernández, physician to King Felipe II, was commissioned to make a catalog of the plants used in New Spain, describing the tomato in the following way: “The largest of them are called xitomame, it is I mean, take me squash-shaped and rough."

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