Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Who am I? Identity Crisis in the Kitchen

Is avocado a fruit or a vegetable? Well, it has a pit, so I think it's a fruit... no wait, a vegetable.... No, no, definitely a fruit, because apples have pits (or are those seeds?), and they are fruits. What are tomatoes, anyway?

We ask each other these types of questions when we cook. Finally, after not being able to remember botany fundamentals, I decided to shed some light on this matter and end the dispute once and for all. I went to a very "reliable" source that anyone can edit at any time - wikipedia:

"The term fruit has different meanings dependent on context, and the term is not synonymous in food preparation and biology. In botany, which is the scientific study of plants, fruits are the ripened ovaries of flowering parts. In many plant species, the fruit includes the ripened ovary and surrounding tissues. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants disseminate seeds, and the presence of seeds indicates that a structure is most likely a fruit, though not all seeds come from fruits."

So far, so good. To get an easily digestible (a mentally digestible) definition of vegetables, I turned to

"...a vegetable is a plant part [that] does not contain seeds."
And there we have it: if it has seeds, it's a fruit. Otherwise, it's a vegetable. Phew. Think I am going to withdraw myself from consideration for "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?".

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