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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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tomatillo Physalis ixocarpa, is a plant of many names, most of which reflect the resemblance between its fruit and that of a true tomato in the green state. Tomatillo means little tomato, apt because its size is usually no more than 2.5 cm (1") across, although some specimens measure more than twice as much.

Other names include green tomato, since it remains green even when ripe; husk tomato, since like other physalis fruits it grows inside a papery calyx or husk, in this instance brown; and sometimes Spanish tomato, not because it is known in Spain, but because it grows in Mexico. Another, better, name is Mexican husk tomato. (The plant abounds in Mexico and Guatemala, and was a staple in the Aztec and Maya economies.)