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tomatillo

Tomatillos are a vegetable originally domesticated in Mesoamerica, best-known in the Anglosphere as the primary ingredient in salsa verde. As the name suggests, they’re related to tomatoes, but also to eggplants, potatoes, capsicums and chillies, as all are members of the Nightshade family. When growing, tomatillos are sheltered from the elements by a husk called a calyx; when ripe, they burst from this husk (and attract dirt to stick to its sticky surface, so wash before use).

Some people think that raw tomatillos are poisonous, but they are not. They tend to taste better cooked, though.

The Nahuatl word tomatl, from which we get the English word “tomato”, actually referred to tomatillos. The Nahuatl word for tomato was xitomatl. Apparently in Jalisco to this day, they use the Spanish word tomate for tomatillos and jitomato for tomatoes, something which can confuse Spanish speakers elsewhere when Jalisco people travel.

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