Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tomatoe, Tomatos (for Tomato, Tomatoes)

What's black and white and red all over? Well, you may have read in the newspaper that the bespattered citizens of Buñol, Spain, with a smattering of tourists tossed into the mix, painted the town red yesterday in unfettered celebration of an annual food fight/festival known as La Tomatina. Like my own garden writ large, the people there apparently have more tomatoes than they know what to do with, but if you want to know the way to make an excellent (and edible) red sauce, here's how. The Spanish festival, which somehow honors both the Virgin Mary and St. Louis Bertrand, began in 1945 and became an official holiday in 1952. Approximately 150,000 tomatoes are sacrificed on this day, whose slippery theme is set in motion when one participant attempts to capture a cooked ham set atop a greasy pole. Although not nearly enough to satisfy the hurling hedonists of Buñol, there were four Tomatos found in OhioLINK this morning, and 99 in WorldCat; the Dan Quayle-like spelling of the singular, Tomatoe, was found six and 77 times in turn. While the Spanish town and its inhabitants may be red all over on the last Wednesday of every August, the matter of how to spell words like tomato and tomatoes is not an entirely black and white one. The rules on words that end in o are somewhat complicated and inconsistent. The OED supposedly includes tomatos as a legitimate variant, but most modern dictionaries don't. Be especially careful to check the spelling on the works themselves here, as any examples you find may be somewhat more likely than usual to reflect the way it was written on the original.

(Girls enjoying La Tomatina, Buñol, Spain, August 25, 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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