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How to Know What Tomato to Use for That Dish

With so many different types of tomatoes, how do you know what kind to use with certain dishes? See more pictures of heirloom tomatoes.

For most of their 600 years among us, tomatoes have been a tough sell. Native to the Andes of South America, they had to travel to Mexico to find their first appreciative audience. When Spanish explorers introduced tomatoes to Europe, only Mediterranean cooks put them on the menu. Back on American soil -- North America, this time -- they were grown as ornamentals, not edibles.

Today, however, it's hard to imagine the American diet without tomatoes. Annual consumption averages 22 pounds per person, from plate-sized to bite-sized, from cream-colored to crimson, from laboratory hybrids to local treasures.

With such variety, how do you decide which are best for filling a fajita or building a BLT? We'll discuss what makes a good tomato for different applications.

First up: tomatoes are not oysters.