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CHAPTER 1

WHAT IS THE TOMATO?

In order to study the tomato, we must start by interrogating the terms used. Do we know what the word tomato means? Where does this term come from? Is the scientific term the same as the common one? In this chapter we try to shed some light on these matters, from a lexical-semantic, conceptual and comparative point of view.

First we explore the complex etymology of the term and then, from an academic, gastronomic and botanical perspective, see how it has evolved in the Spanish language to arrive at the meaning it has today. This chapter also presents some of its names at a scientific and colloquial level.

These designations allow us to perceive the widely differing varieties in a uniform and consistent way. Tomatoes come in various shapes, sizes and colours, and mean different things for a farmer, a botanist or a cook. At this juncture, we interpret what a tomato is for different professionals in order to obtain a holistic perspective of the concept.

Our next step is to situate the tomato in the world of gastronomy through a comparative analysis in which we contrast it to other fruits according to criteria such as texture, shape, colour, chemical composition, etc.

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