The price for this simple dish of fresh tomato rubbed on toast was immeasurable. In the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors returned from the Americas in the 16th century with incredible new foods never before seen in Europe. Potatoes from Chile and cocoa beans, vanilla, peppers and tomatoes from Mexico all helped redefine the cuisines of Europe.
What the indigenous peoples of the “New World” got in return was: the introduction of new diseases they had no defenses against, reducing native populations from 1,000,000 to 300,000, 90% of the Aztec nation eliminated, along with forced labor and slavery.
On the plus side, if that’s even possible, Cortez the Conqueror did introduce new irrigation techniques and tools, livestock like chickens, pigs, sheep and donkeys, horses, and the Roman alphabet to the Americas.
So ultimately, the price paid for the life-altering impact the New World’s foods had on the cuisines of Europe is beyond comprehension. It is also well worth contemplating as you consider how a simple bite of tomato-rubbed toast can be so rich.
Pan Con Tomate (Toasted Bread Rubbed with Garlic and Tomato)
- 4 large Country-style white bread or baguette, sliced thick
- 4 Cloves Garlic, peeled and kept whole
- 2 large Tomatoes, freshest possible
- 5 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
- Toast bread slices until golden brown. Put in a basket.
- Cut tomatoes in half and put face-up in a bowl. Put garlic cloves, salt, and olive oil in separate small serving bowls. Along with the toast basket, put everything out.
- To serve, explain to guests how to assemble themselves by rubbing a garlic clove on one side of the toast, drizzling it with a little olive oil, then rubbing a tomato half over that. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. That's it.