Monday, April 4, 2011

Pomodoro! A History of the Tomato in Italy

About a year ago, I was feasting on some pasta when a thought popped into my head. What did Italian people eat before 1492? Since the tomato is a "New World" fruit (yes, it is a fruit), there were centuries of Italian cooking before it was introduced to Europe. Well, as a Christmas gift this year, I received a book that explains just that. Pomodoro! A History of the Tomato in Italy, by David Gentilcore, traces the tomato from its humble written introduction into Italy on October 31, 1548 (it was viewed as a strange and horrible thing) all the way up to present day. While the book can be a bit dry in parts, overall it is quite fascinating. I learned a lot of interesting tidbits. For example, tomatoes didn't get consumed by the masses in Italy until around the 1700's and it wasn't until the mid 1800's that tomato sauce was married to pasta and became the popular dish it is today. Strangely, the tomato really only started to catch on in Italy right when Italy was becoming unified, so technically, Italians always used tomatoes in their cuisine (by that same logic though, you could say Italian cuisine is less than 200 years old). If you are Italian or just love Italian food (the book includes some recipes) and history, Pomodoro! is definitely worth a read.

No comments:

Post a Comment