Tomatoes came to Europe from Peru (in Aztec they were called tomatl) but like Peru’s other gift to the Old World, the potato, Europeans didn’t eat them for decades, believing they were pretty in a garden as ornamentals but poisonous to eat.
In France things changed in the mid 18th century, when a series of famines brought people around to trying the vegetable (or fruit) that their Italian and Spanish neighbours had been enjoying for a couple of centuries already...and they were hooked, especially in the south, where they form an essential ingredient in everything from salade niçoise to ratatouille.
Today the French are ranked 11th world wide in tomato consumption. Don’t expect them to taste like much in the winter, though, when they come out of greenhouses and look perfect but taste like pingpong balls. That said, the taste of winter cherry tomatoes and vine tomatoes have improved over the past decade.
Images by Dana Facaros, I'm the author, tomate de marmande