The Tempting Tomato
When the tomato, a rare and fascinatingly exotic plant native to South America, was first introduced to European culture, society shunned the red-skinned fruit under the pretense that it was poisonous.
But the myth was quickly dispelled once the French and Italians discovered the succulence of the ripe fruit's flesh. The once-feared tomato became known as the love apple, poma amoris or pomme d'amour depending on region. Slut-red in color with sweet, tangy flesh, it became the perfect symbol for the aphrodisiac qualities of food.
A member of the nightshade family, tomatoes have been cross bred with mandrake, another nightshade, to create narcotic red fruits, an experiment worthy of elevating the succulent, sweet tomato to new aphrodisiac heights. The tomato is also related to deadly belladonna, which may also help explain its aphrodisiac allure as well as but also sheds light on the fruit's initial classification as toxic.
The tomato has been linked to the Garden of Eden. Some even call it the “other” forbidden fruit. Even into the 19th Century, Catholics questioned the tomato's “morality.” It earned a place, as a matter of fact, on the brethren's list of forbidden dishes, along with any other food that put into question the ability of lust-filled young members of the church to maintain self-control within the scarlet tomato's presence.
Far-fetched as it might seem that one glance at a soft, fresh-picked tomato still warm from the sun could overpower the devout with desire, however tomatoes do certainly bring something to the table in the game of gastronomic foreplay.