Declan Cassidy
Pomi d'oro... If an army marches on its stomach then it's not far-fetched to suggest that Italy marches on its tomatoes. The proof of this is in the word. If you ask for pomi d'oro on  your panino you'll, most likely, be smiled at indulgently or politely corrected. "Pomodori", they'll say. When you explain that the word means "apple of gold" and that the plural should, surely, therefore, be "apples of gold – pomidoro" you'll usually get a blank look, followed by an admission that your argument has some merit and then you may well have the pomidoro or pomodori thrown at you because, let's face it, you're being a pedantic pest. But it interests me. When did pomidoro become pomodori and were tomatoes predominently golden rather than red as they are now? Any enlightenment would be appreciated :)
May 18, 2018 11:13 AM
Comments · 9
NealC, 
Probably the most important person in this Polish-Italian history (which is not only about vegetables) was Bona Sforza - the queen of Poland. She was the Italian wife of the Polish king Sigismund I the Old (Zygmunt I Stary) from the Jagiellonian dynasty, who ruled Poland in 16th century. Being a member of one of the most powerful Italian families and the queen of Poland, she was able to attract Italian artists here: architects, painters and also culinary 'artists'. Thanks to her many green vegetables has been introduced here (sometimes called włoszczyzna in Polish - meaning something that came from Italy, many of them having Polish names being the loanwords taken from Italian), and also tradition of eating pasta and drinking wine.
She was very important in our history (You may read an interesting Wikipedia about her) even though not everything she had done was considered right decisions. 

I'm sorry for the off-topic, because this discussion should be about Italian language rather.
May 19, 2018
You can still hear the form pomidoro here in Italy; it's not considered "proper" Italian, but some people still use it. The thing is, though, that this too has been re-analysed as a singular form (probably because it ends in "-o"), and therefore has its own plural in pomidori.
May 21, 2018
That's interesting question. I tried to find something in Italian version of Wikipedia (there is an interesting article to read there). It says that the original colour of the fruit is golden one, but they made this red version more popular by selective planting. They were considered to be decorative plants and rather poisonous, what is true in fact - every part of the plant contains a toxic substance  - even the fruit, though in small quantities. 
This post drew my attention because we use similar name in Polish  - many of our vegetables names are Italian loanwords. Most of them came to Poland with Italian wife of Polish king in 16th century. I read in Polish version of Wikipedia that they were actually called "pomi d'oro" (or with an exact translation to Polish here) until 19th century, when the plural collective noun came into use: "pomodori" in Italian and "pomidory" in Polish.
May 18, 2018
How interesting Marcin - thank you!
May 19, 2018

I used to work with some Polish guys and I was fascinated by the Italian loanwords, in particular Pomidory.  I remember when I asked them what was the word for Tomato in Polish we had quite a bit of confusion -- I thought they were trying to speak Italian with a Polish accent!

I would love to know how the Italian loanwords came about - was there really that much of a trade or exchange relationship with Italy in Poland's history?

May 18, 2018
Show more