Tomatoes in Spain

tomate21On a recent trip to Spain, I fell in love with the tomato- Solanum lycopersicum- again. The tomatoes tasted so good, even in December, and lots of dishes are made in Spain with tomatoes.  The tomatoes I ate in Spain did not have that cardboard taste tomatoes have in winter on the east coast (where I live). Since tomatoes like full sun and well-watered soil, Spain has a perfect climate for growing tomatoes and produces around 3 million tons a year. Tomatoes are classified botanically as a fruit (its seeds are surrounded by an inner flesh), but used in cooking as a vegetable. In addition to vitamins A and C, tomatoes contain fiber, and contain lycopene, which research suggests MAY prevent cancer.  They are also cholesterol free and are only 35 calories. Tomatoes are the biggest vegetable crop, and the single most eaten foodstuff in Spain. Annual consumption of fresh tomatoes in this country is almost 40 kg per capita, The Spanish brought the tomato to Europe from the Americas and it was not eaten until the 19th century, but they sure do eat the tomato now.  They even have a festival in La Tomatina Buñol in Valencia, Spain.  It is held annually on the last Wednesday in August and attracts tens of thousands of visitors. The highlight is the tomato fight, in which 30,000+ participants throw an estimated 150,000 overripe tomatoes (100 metric tons) at each other.       Pan con Tomate (Bread with Tomato) or 1246987596_Pan-con-TomatePan a la Catalana is a simple, well-loved, widely eaten and famous dish from Cataluña.  In Catalan, it is called pa amb tomaquet.   Click here for  a recipe: