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Tomato From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know About Tomato
Photo Biel Alino / Epa/Corbis

Tomato From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know About Tomato

From the craziest Festivals to Xitomatl, a list of interesting facts and figures about one of the world's most used vegetable

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Technically speaking, tomatoes are actually a fruit, not a vegetable. Considering the confusion, the state of Arkansas actually officially declared it to be both a fruit and a vegetable.

Bloody Mary
It's the most famous tomato-based cocktail, with vodka and Tabasco sauce and is garnished with lemon, salt and pepper. Here you find the Bloody Mary recipe.

Amongst natural quick-fixes, tomato sauce is known for its ability to clean jewelry and other items made of copper, as well as make them shine.

Deadly Nightshade
It was once believed that tomatoes were poisonous, as they belong to the deadly nightshade family.

Enormous Plant
The largest tomato plant in the world is a tree growing inside Florida's Walt Disney World - it produces 32,000 tomatoes a year. The heaviest tomato hails from Oklahoma, weighing in at 3.5 kg.

Francesco Leonardi
He was Catherine the Great's (Empress of Russia) personal chef, and it is said that it was he - an Italian - who invented the first spaghetti with tomato recipe in 1790.

Originally from Andalusia, it is one of the most common dishes found in Spanish cuisine: it's a tomato soup best served cold, which is great during the summer. Here you find the Gazpacho's recipe.

Rich in lycopene (an antioxidant), tomatoes are good for the heart and help fight against prostate cancer.

Bright red yet bland tomatoes? Scientists have just discovered that the cause lies in a gene that has been lost over the years, responsible for forming its aroma.

In America the average person (the Average Joe) loves growing tomato plants: 93% of gardeners plant them.

It's the most famous tomato-based sauce in the world. Although it is widely used in America, its origins are actually from the Far East; the term itself is derived from the Malay word "kecap".

The tomato's scientific name is Solanum lycopersicum, meaning “wolf peach”.

Main Producers
China is the largest producer of tomatoes, followed by the United States, Turkey, India and Egypt.

In Italian the tomato is called "pomo d'oro" (golden apple), in France the "pomme d'amour" (love apple) for its alleged aphrodisiac qualities and in Germany "Paradise Apfel" (heavenly apple).

Oldest Cookbook
The first cookbook devoted to the tomato was published in Naples, Italy, in 1692 - though it claims to contain Spanish recipes.

"Pummarola" (tomato paste made from concentrate) is a staple ingredient in the Neapolitan cuisine, which is also the base of the original pizza.

Queen Elizabeth
Walter Raleigh, the adventurer, writer, admiral and traveler, brought a tomato seedling to Queen Elizabeth I, reportedly as a pledge of his love.

This is a French term that refers the richest and most flavorful tomato-based sauce. Depending on local recipes it is often livened up with meat, vegetables, sausage as well as fish. It is known for its long cooking time.

Several countries around the globe have sent tomato seeds to outer space in order to grow the vegetable in zero gravity.

Every August in Bunol, in the Spanish region of Valencia, the La Tomatina festival takes place. Participants pummel each other with tomatoes, using approximately 150,000 of them over the span of one week. See these amazing pics of it!

Unconventional Usage
Among the less conventional uses of the tomato juice is that which involves cinematography. On the set of crime films it is a perfect substitute for human blood.

More than ten thousand varieties exist, from those that resemble small cherries to those that are completely hollow on the inside, in many different shapes and with very different flavors.

World’s Most Popular Fruit
Each year more than 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced all over the world. After the banana, it is the world's most popular fruit, followed by apples, oranges and watermelons.

The tomato has origins in the Aztec word "xitomatl", or "plump fruit with a navel", and was seen for the first time in Peru and Mexico.

They don't only come in red! Tomatoes can be yellow, pink, orange, purple, black and white.

There is even a striped variety with green and yellow zebra-like stripes, appropriately called Green Zebra.

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