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Italian food is almost synonymous with tomatoes—but it hasn't always been.
It's easy to think "Italian food" and immediately picture pasta, Parmesan, and plump tomatoes. But Emiko Davies, our Italian food expert, is about to fill you in on a little secret that's slap-your-forehead obvious once it's been revealed:
While today we may think of tomatoes as a very Italian ingredient, they are actually native to the Americas and were introduced to the Italian peninsula via Spanish explorers in the early sixteenth century. At first they were viewed with suspicion and kept as ornamental plants—it wasn't until the next century that tomatoes began to appear regularly in kitchens across the country.
Well, Italians have certainly come a long way in the five-hundred-plus years since then. While tomatoes may not be native to their country, Italians have certainly claimed them as their own—and we're sure glad they have.
These 7 recipes prove that Italian cuisine is worthy of summer's best tomatoes:
First photo by Mark Weinberg; all others by Emiko Davies