"Why isn't a tomato a vegetable, dad?"
My vegetable garden, it turns out, is mostly fruit!
Shoot. She's almost 11. The questions have gotten harder. This is a "gotcha" question for sure. Short answer is, it's a fruit. "What is a fruit, dad?" Damn. Can't go any farther from here. Luckily we have the Interwikigooglenets.
It's very confusing. I'll try and sort out what I learned.
Fruit is both a botanical AND a culinary term.
Botanically, it is the ripened ovaries and surrounding tissue of flowering plants, the device, of which, plants use to disseminate seeds. So fruits include pears, apples, strawberries, peaches, plums AND squash, pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, beans, corn, eggplant and peppers. Other fruits are not edible and downright poisonous.
Did you know that nasturtiums (shown right) are related to cabbage and are one of the few plants where everything is edible - flower, leaves, unripened seeds and the roots?
Fruit, as a culinary term, generally means any sweet-tasting plant product associated with seeds.
A nut is technically a fruit with a very thin seed wall, and are considered edible seeds, like walnuts, pecans, corn, wheat and rice.
Vegetable is ONLY a culinary term. Vegetables do not exist in the world of botany. A vegetable in the culinary world is any edible part of a savory plant:
- Buds (broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes)
- Seeds (corn)
- Leaves (spinach, lettuce, kale)
- Stems (celery, rhubarb, asparagus)
- Underground stems (potatoes, yams)
- Whole immature plants (bean sprouts)
- Roots (carrots, beets, radishes)
- Bulbs (onions, garlic)
- Fruits (tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers)
- Legumes (peas & beans)
- Whole unripe seed pods of legumes (green beans, snap peas)
Culinarily, berries include blackberries, raspberries, strawberries. They are botanical fruit, but they are not true berries.
Confused? I seem to have been able to make some sense of it to her, for now. The puberty & sex "talk" was a breeze compared to this.