The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family, as are its close cousins tobacco, chili peppers, potato, and eggplant.
Tomatoes are one of the most common garden fruits in the United States and, along with zucchini, have a reputation for outproducing the needs of the grower.
Tomatoes are used extensively in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, with Italian being the most notable. The tomato has an acidic property that is used to bring out other flavors. This same acidity makes tomatoes especially easy to preserve in home canning as tomato sauce or paste. The first to commercially can tomatoes was Harrison Woodhull Crosby in Jamesburg, New Jersey. Tomato juice is often canned and sold as a beverage. Unripe green tomatoes can also be used to make salsa, be breaded and fried, or pickled.
The town of BuÃ±ol, Spain, annually celebrates La Tomatina, a festival centered on an enormous tomato fight. Tomatoes are also a popular "non-lethal" throwing weapon in mass protests; and there is a common tradition of throwing rotten tomatoes at bad performers on a stage, although this tradition is more symbolic today. Embracing it for this protest connotation, the Dutch Socialist party adopted the tomato as their logo.
Known for its tomato growth and production, the Mexican state of Sinaloa takes the tomato as its symbol.
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