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04:29

joasakura:

tangledbeast:

Guys, I’m losing my shit. So, observe the humble tomato.

The scientific name for tomatoes is Lycopersicon esculentum, which apparently translates to “edible wolf peach

Why? Apparently there was an old superstition that members of the nightshade  (which includes tomatoes) were used by witches to summon werewolves.

You heard me. Suddenly that spaghetti sauce doesn’t seem so innocent.

Tomato sauce with roasted garlic. The ultimate culinary move in the Werewolf vs. Vampire war.

Weird Historical Poisons Nerd here.

Let’s go back to the Middle Ages. Medicine was almost entirely plant based. There are a wide variety of plants that are extremely poisonous but if used in the right way, can also save your life. People who knew how to administer the correct dosage walked a very fine line between magic and science, between being considered a witch or a healer. 

Deadly Nightshade AKA Atropa Belladonna is a very deadly plant. But if you’ve gone to the eye doctor and had your eyes dilated? That’s atropine, which comes from Belladonna. Likewise, if you’ve ever had an asthma breathing treatment from a ventilator that left you feeling kind of shaky - Atropine. Belladonna is a painkiller, it’s useful for the GI tract, it can be an antidote to other poisons and it’s even used to treat Parkinson’s Disease, among a bunch of other stuff.

It also can make you hallucinate like crazy. So these witches/wise women (and men as well) knew the properties of this insane plant as well as things like mandrake, henbane, and hemlock, all of which are, again, deadly but useful.

There was also a big problem at the time with werewolves. I won’t get into all the hows and whys, but there were genuinely people who thought they were wolves who attacked and ate people. There were also people who truly believed they had seen humans mutate into wolves or vice versa. So it was a generally established fact that werewolves were 100% real and running around the countryside. The people who were caught as ‘werewolves’ almost always said that they were given a paste or ‘ointment’ by the Devil himself which when they rubbed it on themselves, they were able to become a wolf.

Which came first is impossible to say, but with this environment in mind, witches made themselves a Flying Ointment (which you can still buy online, btw), which was a hallucinogenic compound that contained, most notably, a lot of Nightshade. Some of them may have rubbed it on their skin, but at least some of them were said to have put the ointment on wooden dildos and inserted them.

In any event, they proceeded to trip balls and believed themselves to be wolves, running around the forests at night.  Whether this is partly responsible for the werewolf attacks will never be known but people in the countryside learned pretty quick that these witches used this deadly berry to turn into wolves and you should probably respect the crap out of them and their medicine.

Which totally makes sense, because if I was a poor but very intelligent woman living in a world full of horrible diseases where no one respected my talents, I’d also want to get really high and run around as a wolf while simultaneously making people actually pay attention to my medical knowledge.

So how do tomatoes figure in? Well tomatoes used to be toxic. The toxicity of plants depends on things like weather and soil, but it also can change as plants interbreed. Remember that fruits and berries weren’t huge and colorful like they are now. They used to be a lot smaller, tougher, less disease resistant. We bred all those things in. So the tomato at the time was just another small, strange berry that looked a lot like Nightshade that could also kill you. Eventually, tomatoes lost their poison, either through selective breeding or just through natural evolution and gained the label of ‘edible’.

Back then, though, people weren’t taking any chances. “You see that? That’s a wolf peach. If you eat it, you’ll turn into a wolf.”

And that’s the story of how people were so scared of hallucinating witches that we still call tomatoes ‘werewolf fruit’.

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