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3.5 

Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World

By William Alexander
Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World by William Alexander digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

New York Times bestselling author William Alexander takes readers on a surprisingly twisty journey through the history of the beloved tomato in this fascinating and erudite microhistory.
 
The tomato gets no respect. Never has. Stored in the dustbin of history for centuries, accused of being vile and poisonous, appropriated as wartime propaganda, subjected to being picked hard-green and gassed, even used as a projectile, the poor tomato is the Rodney Dangerfield of foods. Yet, the tomato is the most popular vegetable in America (and, in fact, the world). It holds a place in America's soul like no other vegetable, and few other foods. Each summer, tomato festivals crop up across the country; John Denver had a hit single titled "homegrown Tomatoes;" and the Heinz tomato ketchup bottle, instantly recognizable, is in the Smithsonian.
 
Author William Alexander is on a mission to get tomatoes the respect they deserve. Supported by meticulous research but told in a lively, accessible voice, Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World will seamlessly weave travel, history, humor, and a little adventure (and misadventure) to follow the tomato's trail through history. A fascinating story complete with heroes, con artists, conquistadors and, no surprise, the Mafia, this book is a mouth-watering, informative, and entertaining guide to the good that has captured our hearts for generations.

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5 Reviews

3.5
“A fun, informative, sometimes laugh-out-loud-funny, history of the world through the career of possibly the most common fruit/vegetable in the world. Did you know tomatoes come to us from Mexico? Not Italy. (And even after they got to Italy, they were grown as ornamental, exotic plants and not eaten for fear of being poisonous.) Or that pizza (legit from Italy/Naples this time) has always been a quick, cheap dinner option for busy moms? Or that Mr. Heinz was a marketing genius (and a really decent human)? William Alexander brings us the earliest history of the tomato’s journey around the world, with special chapters dedicated to pizza, pasta, ketchup, and more. Then, some investigative reporting on how tomatoes became what they are today, who is responsible for the death of flavor (you won’t like the answer), and what the future looks like. I freely admit that I skimmed over some of the last chapter about carbon emissions and population increase and future options. There’s not much room for quirky storytelling or comedic relief there. And after such a delightful read, I didn’t want the book to go out like that. But mostly great. And I’m definitely growing Brandywines next summer.”
“This was such a fun entertaining read! I learned so much about the history of tomatoes and it was great to still have Naples fresh in my mind while reading. Highly recommend! Nice and quick and informative.”

About William Alexander

William Alexander, the author of two critically acclaimed books, lives in New York's Hudson Valley. By day the IT director at a research institute, he made his professional writing debut at the age of fifty-three with a national bestseller about gardening, The $64 Tomato. His second book, 52 Loaves, chronicled his quest to bake the perfect loaf of bread, a journey that took him to such far-flung places as a communal oven in Morocco and an abbey in France, as well as into his own backyard to grow, thresh, and winnow wheat. The Boston Globe called Alexander "wildly entertaining," the New York Times raved that "his timing and his delivery are flawless," and the Minneapolis Star Tribune observed that "the world would be a less interesting place without the William Alexanders who walk among us." A 2006 Quill Book Awards finalist, Alexander won a Bert Greene Award from the IACP for his article on bread, published in Saveur magazine. A passion bordering on obsession unifies all his writing. He has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition and at the National Book Festival in Washington DC and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times op-ed pages, where he has opined on such issues as the Christmas tree threatening to ignite his living room and the difficulties of being organic. Now, in Flirting with French, he turns his considerable writing talents to his perhaps less considerable skills: becoming fluent in the beautiful but maddeningly illogical French language.

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