As I have been journeying through Italy, I’ve found that the tomato is a staple ingredient of most recipes. Whether its pasta sauces, pizza sauce, or fresh slices, tomatoes are everywhere. I’d bet that I’ve had tomatoes in each meal that I’ve eaten since I arrived in Italy. Contrary to what you’d assume, the tomato is a fairly new innovation in Italian culture. It’s not even indigenous to Europe. The tomato originated in Peru and was brought to Europe by Spanish conquistadors in the early 16th century. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that most of the iconic Italian dishes that contained tomatoes in them we born. Prior to that, olive oil, anchovies, and cheeses were likely the condiments that covered most pizzas and pastas. Having only been around for so little time, I’d venture to say that the Italians have mastered this dish.
In Passignano, as I was meandering through the weekend market I stumbled across an old babushka selling her own homemade goods. She let me sample some of the spreads she offered, and the pomodori spread was so delectable that I had to buy some, in addition to taking a few more samples. The minced tomatoes soaked in vinegar that had red pepper and garlic. My only regret is not buying more of the delicious spread from that woman. The tomato has planted itself into Italian culture with it’s predominance in Italian dishes.