The Aztecs of Mexico gave tomatoes to the world. They ate them fresh or made sauces from them, just as they are used today. When Spanish conquistadors took tomato seeds back to Europe, the tomatoes that grew from them weren't received well. The Europeans didn't like their acidic taste, which they felt was deceiving coming from such a vibrantly red, juicy fruit. They expected it to be sweet, but instead found it bitter. Many people in England and other northern European countries shunned the "love apple" believing that it would arouse passionate feelings, much like a love potion. They would not eat the tomato, but merely grew it as an ornamental plant in their gardens. The Mediterranean countries fell in love with the tomato, however, finding it a fabulous addition to their pasta dishes. Like the Aztecs, Mediterranean cooks crushed it to use in sauces, pizza, and gazpacho. In fact, after the 1500 A.D. advent of the tomato in Italy, tomato based sauces replaced the former pasta toppings of olive oil, cheese, butter, or mashed cooked vegetables. Because the Italians gave tomatoes a chance, we now enjoy spaghetti sauce and other tomato sauced on our pasta. Thanks Italy!
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