Oftentimes when I’m enjoying a tomato, some bookish fellow will stop adjusting his eyeglasses for a minute to tell me, in his nasally little voice, “You know, tomatoes aren’t vegetables. They’re actually a type of fruit.” Immediately, everyone within earshot stops what they’re doing. In hushed tones my friends start to say, “Oh, snap, shit’s going down.” If I’m at a party the DJ will stop the record, and somebody will flick on the lights. No one even questions why I’m eating a tomato at a party, because everyone has learned to let me enjoy my tomatoes in peace. I’m not even going to make any sort of joke in this update, because what I always proceed to tell these nebbish blowhards should be digested as immutable lifeless facts:
*Fact one: It is true that botanically a tomato is a fruit. Everyone talks about this. But guess what: so are squash, green beans, bell peppers, and cucumbers. Are you still prepared to pretend you’re a botanist?
*Fact two: To get even more specific, tomatoes are berries. You might also want to note that bananas, avocados, and chili peppers are also berries—and that, botanically, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries? Not berries at all, my friend, but aggregate fruits.
*Fact three: Check this out, Gregor Mendel: “vegetable” doesn’t even have much botanical meaning. It’s a culinary term and since the tomato isn’t sweet, it’s treated as a vegetable for cooking purposes.
*Fact four: In 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court officially declared that a tomato is a vegetable based on its usage and should be treated as such in accordance with the Tariff Act of 1883, motherfucker.
By now, the egoistic tomato-as-fruit proponent is lying unconscious on the floor with blood flowing from his nose. I didn’t even hit him, I just laid down some knowledge. Then the DJ restarts the party music and everybody begins dancing—everybody but me. I’ve got a vegetable to enjoy.