Date: Fri, 22 Mar 1996 18:08:15 -0500


Subject: Re: Asia and tomatoes

The question was raised about the boundaries of Asia and whether Israel is

part of it.

Isn't this like asking whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable?

According to the books maybe Israel is part of Asia, but the whole

continental division notion becomes ludicrous when we talk about the Urals as

a boundary. You may as well call the Rockies the border between two

continents. Maybe there aren't even seven continents. Or maybe there are

geologically but not culturally. As with the tomato there is the technical

answer and the common sense answer. Tomatoes may be the fruit of the tomato

plant, but we eat them in our meals in salads and in other "vegetable" ways.

Since we don't eat them in sweet pies or for dessert or for snacks like

other fruits, they aren't "fruits" in the common meaning of the word any more

than peppers or pinecones are. This really gets to me because I've seen

articles bewailing the fact that only 10 percent of our high school seniors

answered a test question correctly on whether the tomato was a fruit of

vegetable. So if the Israelis want to call themselves Middle easterners, as

far as I'm concerned that's what they are.

Dale Coye

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching