Tomatoes are native to the Americas and were initially cultivated by the Aztecs as early as 700 A.D. The European conquistadors discovered them when they arrived in Mexico and Central America in the 16th Century. They carried the seeds back to Spain, Italy, and Portugal, where tomatoes soon became popular.
The British believed the food to be poisonous, a belief that persisted among colonists in the New World until the early 19th Century.
Tomatoes were popularized in this country when the Creoles in New Orleans included them in their popular gumbos and jambalayas.
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