Book review: Pomodoro! A history of the tomato in Italy

How often do you think about the food you eat? I mean really contemplate about where your food comes from, or whether it existed two hundred years ago. I personally don’t that often, but thank god there are people out there that do.

When Rachel from Crispy Cook proposed we read, review and cook from David Gentilcore’s new book Pomodoro! A History of the tomato in Italy (Columbia Press 2010) I got really excited. I found the idea that someone had gone into great lengths to find out more about this widely used vegetable (it is actually a fruit) really interesting. Of course, to create both a readable book and a scholarly thesis is a very difficult task and I was looking forward to seeing how it would be handled by Professor Gentilcore.

Needless to say I was far from disappointed. Despite its detailed approach, the book is a joy to read. The amount and diversity of sources examined is also quite impressive, but what is even more astonishing is to see how a vegetable that was initially considered dangerous to people’s health and was only used for ornamental purposes managed to become a whole nation’s dietary staple. It made me think about how much we also use the tomato in Greece and wonder why no-one has written anything about it yet.

To celebrate the book and the lovely tomato I decided to make a very easy dish, which really brings out the flavour of the fruit: oven roast tomatoes. It is a bit time-consuming to make, but the sauce you’ll get from it is really superior and very concentrated in taste. I like to eat it with bread and a bit of cheese as a condiment, but you could definitely use it to liven up sauces for meats and pasta.

Oven Roast Tomatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg very ripe plum tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • kosher salt or fleur de sel

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 240 oC.
  2. Wash the tomatoes well and cut in half. Place them cut side down on a baking tray an drizzle with olive oil. Scatter the cloves of garlic all over the tray and roast for about 30 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to 150 oC. and continue roasting until the tomatoes have shrivelled, about 1.5 hours.
  4. You can peel and pulse them in a blender together with the roast garlic to make a sauce or just chop them up and toss them in some freshly boiled pasta together with fresh herbs such as oregano or basil.
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6 thoughts on “Book review: Pomodoro! A history of the tomato in Italy

  1. i have to try this one too, as i always make my own sauce
    no matter how time consuming it is to make my own sauce, i dont regret it at all, especially in the winter when i see my jars stacked up high on the shelves of the pantry

    does this sauce last a few days (eg in the fridge)???

    • Yes you can keep it in the fridge for a few days at least especially if you store it in a clean jar and cover it with olive oil so it doesn’t have contact with oxygen

  2. Πόσο απλή φαίνεται!Μ’ αρέσει να διακρίνω σε κάθε τροφή τα υλικά που περιέχει κι αυτή η σάλτσα πρέπει να έχει αυτό το χαρακτηριστικό.Διατηρείται πολύ καιρό;

  3. Wasn’t it an interesting book? I just found it amazing how all-encompassing tomatoes have become after such a slow integration into the diet. And your roasted tomatoes look so good!

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