Tomatoes Are Fruit, Tacos Are Not Sandwiches

British humorist Miles Kington once said, "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad."

When you tell people tomato is fruit, they scoff and laugh at you, pretending to actually know what scoffing is.

 But it's true. Botanically, not culinarily (which is a real word; I checked), a tomato is considered a fruit because it contains seeds and they grow from the flower of a plant. So botanically, a pepper is a fruit as well.

But don't put it in a fruit salad. Or in a regular salad. Or in your mouth.

People who scoff at this are the same people who were too busy peeling glue off their hands in high school to pay attention in science class. They're the same people who suddenly became experts on the miracle of horse paste during the pandemic.

They either didn't pay attention when you said "botanically," or they're being willfully ignorant because they enjoy playing dumb to argue about science.

A vegetable is anything edible that is not the reproductive portion of the plant that comes from a flower. So a potato is a vegetable, celery is a vegetable, and even edible flowers can be a vegetable, which is why some people eat dandelion green salads.

If I wanted to eat my lawn, I would be a goat.

While most people will accept that a tomato is a fruit, it really throws them when you tell them what a berry is.

According to the botany nerds, berries are a fleshy fruit with many seeds, but not a pit (also called a stone), produced from a single flower containing one ovary.

Which means that blueberries, cranberries, and lingonberries are all berries, but blackberries, mulberries, raspberries, and strawberries are not. (They're accessory fruits.) Which makes botany deniers stamp their little feet and paint more Elmer's glue on their palms.

But grapes, pumpkins, watermelons, and bananas are considered berries. And so are cucumbers.

Remember, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. You should put it on a sandwich. Specifically, a footlong BMT from Subway. 

I bring all this up because of what is being called the biggest case of judicial overreach in U.S. history.

Judicial overreach is what politicians call it when the courts make a ruling that they don't like. If a case didn't go their way, they whine about judicial overreach and activism.

But in this case, I think most people will agree this latest instance of judicial overreach is the over-reachiest.

Earlier this month, in a clear case of culinary calamity, an Indiana judge declared that tacos and burritos are sandwiches.

Is nothing sacred? In this world of fake news and political lies, the one truth I could hold onto was that tacos are tacos. They are their own thing, and any attempt to label them any other kind of food makes a mockery of tacos. A taco mockery. A tockery!

It happened because Martin Quintana of Fort Wayne had been trying to open a second location of his restaurant, The Famous Taco, inside a plaza that he already owned. But his way was blocked by the Covington Creek Condominium Association which said that the only kinds of restaurants allowed in the plaza were ones that sold made-to-order sandwiches.

Like Subway, which puts tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers on its sandwiches because they have wisdom.

So Quintana sued the Fort Wayne Plan Commission in December 2022 after he proposed a zoning change that would allow his restaurant to sell made-to-order tacos, burritos, and other Mexican-style food.

I can support this because the original plan was doing its own overreaching by limiting what kind of food a restaurant can serve. Also, I love tacos and burritos.

Except Allen County Superior Court Judge Craig J. Bobay decided he wanted to make his own stamp on food history. As he wrote in his decision, "The Court agrees with Quintana that tacos and burritos are Mexican style sandwiches"

Look, I'm all for Quintana sticking it to the condo association because most homeowners associations are run by jumped-up little fascists with delusions of importance.

But Judge Bobay set a dangerous precedent because he didn't consider how the ripples of his decision will be felt throughout history.

Several years ago, I wrote a column that definitively proved that a hot dog was a sandwich.  Afterward, there were all sorts of cranks and nutcases coming out of the woodwork, trying to tell me that I needed to accept other nonsense, like, "cereal is soup" or "Cream of Wheat a stew." Still others said that a hot dog wasn't a sandwich, it was a taco.

These people are clearly glue-peeling nutcases. 

Now that Judge Bobay has said that tacos and burritos are sandwiches, that means the same "tomatoes ain't fruit" people are going to have another go at the hot dog question. And I'm going to have to defend this simple fact over and over.

Unless I can distract them. First, I'm going to need a really big bottle of Elmer's glue.

Photo credit: kie-ker (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)
Photo credit: Roses_Street (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available from 4 Horsemen Publications. You can get the ebook and print versions here.