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Pomodoro!: A History of the Tomato in Italy
     

Pomodoro!: A History of the Tomato in Italy

by David Gentilcore
 

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More than just the beloved base ingredient of so many of our favorite dishes, the tomato has generated both profound riches and controversy in its farming, processing, exchange, and consumption. It is a crop infused with national pride and passion for those who grow it, and a symbol of Old World nostalgia for those who claim its history and legacy.

Over time,

Overview

More than just the beloved base ingredient of so many of our favorite dishes, the tomato has generated both profound riches and controversy in its farming, processing, exchange, and consumption. It is a crop infused with national pride and passion for those who grow it, and a symbol of Old World nostalgia for those who claim its history and legacy.

Over time, the tomato has embodied a range of values and meanings. From its domestication in Central America, it has traveled back and forth across the Atlantic, powering a story of aspiration and growth, agriculture and industry, class and identity, and global transition. In this entertaining and organic history, David Gentilcore recounts the surprising rise of the tomato from its New World origin to its Old World significance. From its inauspicious introduction into Renaissance Europe, the tomato came to dominate Italian cuisine and the food industry over the course of three centuries.

Gentilcore explores why elite and peasant cultures took so long to assimilate the tomato into Italian cooking and how it eventually triumphed. He traces the tomato's appearance in medical and agricultural treatises, travel narratives, family recipe books, kitchen accounts, and Italian art, literature, and film. He focuses on Italy's fascination with the tomato, painting a larger portrait of changing trends and habits that began with botanical practices in the sixteenth century and attitudes toward vegetables in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and concluded with the emergence of factory production in the nineteenth. Gentilcore continues with the transformation of the tomato into a national symbol during the years of Italian immigration and Fascism and examines the planetary success of the "Italian" tomato today, detailing its production, representation, and consumption.

Editorial Reviews

New York Post - Billy Heller
[An] enthusiastic and informative look at the red fruit.

PopMatters - Diane Leach
Those with an interest in tomatoes, Italian life, or just cultural history in general may find this both enlightening and entertaining.

Choice
Bright and sunny as summer day, this chatty, informative miscellany harvests all that is of interest in the world of Italian tomatoes.

Gastronomica
Gentilcore rightly highlights the unexpected, the surprising, and the obscure. The author is good at describing how the tomato became so popular… compelling anecdotes, based on original research and already published sources, engage the reader and carefully map the ways in which tomato consumption increased over the centuries.

New York Post
[An] enthusiastic and informative look at the red fruit.

— Billy Heller

PopMatters
Those with an interest in tomatoes, Italian life, or just cultural history in general may find this both enlightening and entertaining.

— Diane Leach

Library Journal
Tomatoes may be associated with Italy today, but when first introduced to the country from Mexico in the 16th century, they were thought to be poisonous. Gentilcore (early modern history, Univ. of Leicester, UK; Medical Charlatanism in Early Modern Italy) explores how the tomato became a common condiment and eventually began to take center stage in the 1900s in Italian cuisine and why it took over 300 years. According to Gentilcore, Italy now produces "around 6.6 million tons of tomatoes," and the average Italian consumes almost 200 pounds of fresh tomatoes per year. Historical recipes are scattered throughout the text, and there is a comprehensive bibliography arranged by chapter at the end. VERDICT Food historians and readers interested in Italian cooking will enjoy this rich history of the tomato from its beginnings in the New World to its rise to fame in the Old World.—Nicole Mitchell, Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231525503
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
06/22/2010
Series:
Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
File size:
24 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

What People are Saying About This

Ken Albala
Frankly, I am amazed that no one had already written this book. It is a fascinating topic, and David Gentilcore does it justice, covering five hundred years in scrutinizing detail. There is probably no food so readily associated with Italy than the tomato, and yet its origin is in the Americas.

Andrew F. Smith
Tomatoes arrived in Italy in the mid-sixteenth century, but three centuries lapsed before they were commonly consumed in southern Italy. Why did it take so long? David Gentilcore's well-researched and well-written Pomodoro! offers delicious insights into how and why the lowly tomato became Italy's favorite "vegetable fruit." A great story and a great read!

Meet the Author

David Gentilcore is professor of early modern history at the University of Leicester. He has written widely on the social and cultural history of Italy, from popular religion to the practices of medicine and healing. He is the author of Medical Charlatanism in Early Modern Italy, which was awarded the Jason A. Hannah Medal by the Royal Society of Canada.

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