Let's start by setting the record straight. Tomato is not a vegetable. It's a fruit. However the Santorini cherry tomato isn't a vegetable or a fruit. It's a gem that has made every islander's life a little bit richer - even if just in flavor. The historical tomato factory of D. Nomikos in Vlychada, established in 1945, is a testament to that. Now transformed into a modern Industrial Tomato Museum, it forms part of the Santorini Arts Factory, featuring an events space, a shop and a commercial storage facility. It even has its very own arts festival to go with it. But let's take things from the top.
Once upon a time, in pre-industrial Santorini, Dimitrios Nomikos started producing tomato paste in a small plant in Messaria circa 1915. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge - and a lot of tomato has been canned - since then. It wasn't until 1981 when the Nomikos family had to admit defeat: tourism had outgrown tomatoes and it was time to fold their tasty schemes for good. Still, cherry tomato is the secret ingredient in many local dishes, colouring Santorini's fate throughout the decades.
In fact, it was tomatoes and not the island's volcanic landscape or delectable white wines that catapulted it to worldwide fame. The Industrial Tomato Museum follows this brilliant red trail from field to factory, weaving in and out of the island's oral history, topped off by a close encounter with heirloom tomato seeds and a free tasting. Who can say no to that?
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