How important were the tomatoes in Italian cuisine? What was the food like before the tomatoes were brought?
In general, tomatoes are not as important in Italian cuisine as many people think. Although it is true that many famous dishes such as pizza and ragu are centered around tomatoes, these are dishes that are largely eaten outside of Italy by Italian immigrants or used in restaurants due to their simplicity and low cost. Within Italy, cuisine is far more diverse, with each city and town having its own type of cuisine which rarely centers around tomatoes.
Before the introduction of tomatoes in the 16th century, most cuisine focused on olives, flour, onions, chickpeas, cheeses, and local fruits and vegetables. Italian diet is also centered around the seasons, with most people eating completely different things during the summer and winter, particularly in regards to fruits and vegetables