I love how potato in French is pomme de terre, which pretty much means “earth apple.”
like what stupid frenchman saw this:
and said “zis petite légume looks like a, how you say, APPLE! hmmm… but it grows in ze earth… HON HON HON! MAIS OUI! C’EST UNE…
This happened all the fucking time in the 16th century. The tomato was brought to Europe from South America by the Spanish. They spread to Italy where they were called “golden apples” and France where they went by “love apples.” The cainito is a West Indian fruit of purple, green, or red color with inedible skin and rind, which is known in English as a “star apple.” (A related fruit in Africa is also called a star apple.) In South America, an evergreen relative scientifically called mammea americana produces an edible berry with a thick brown rind which is known as a “mammee apple.” (The fruit of the African version, mammea africana, is sometimes known as the “African apple” or the “African mammee apple.”)
Annona reticulata, another South and Central American native tree, is known as the “custard apple.” The fruit is yellow-brown with red highlights and knobbly, shaped like a heart or an oblong form, and the inside is white and creamy. (The nickname is probably the fault of the English again- the Spanish called it “soursop.”) It’s cousin annona squamosa, which resembles a squat green pine cone and also has white, custard-like guts, is called a “sugar-apple.”
There are at least 5 separate species in the genus syzygium that are given the appellation “apple”- water apple, Malay apple, rose apple, mountain apple, wax apple, malacca apple. All are native to Malaysia and/or Indonesia. None of them look or taste anything like apples. Syzygium suborbiculare is from Australia and Papua New Guinea and is known in English as the “red bush apple” or “lady apple.” It’s a crunchy, bright red fruit that’s ribbed like a gourd.
I think the moral of this story is that 16th-century Europeans had no fucking idea how to name things. (They also apparently had a poor grasp of metaphor.)