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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aargh!

My kids are watching some animated kids show from Britain. The teacher character is "educating" the children that "people call tomahtoes a vegetable, but they're really a fruit."

I know I've blogged this before, but I am an OCD sufferer, so I just have to keep blogging it until I fix the problem: 'Vegetable' is a culinary category. It means, roughly, "the non-sweet, non-starchy things we eat as sides to our main course." "Vegetable" has no scientific meaning! No one considers bread or beer to be vegetable dishes, although they clearly come from plants, while most people consider mushrooms to be a vegetable, although they are not plants at all. (I recall watching with horror as another "educator" asked my daughter's class "Which part of a plant does a mushroom come from?" That's like asking "Which part of a plant does a t-bone steak come from?")

"Fruit," on the other hand, has both a culinary and a botanical meaning. Culinarily speaking, tomahtoes, squash, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, and more are all vegetables. Botanically speaking, they are all fruits. (Query: Why, then, 99% of the time when you hear people confusing these categories, is it tomatoes that are in question? I've never heard anyone lecture people on how "the cucumber is really a fruit.")

INTERESTING ASIDE FROM WIKIPEDIA: In the link above, I learned that the avocado is (culinarily) a fruit in Brazil, but a vegetable in Mexico.

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