on August 26, 2008
The Heirloom Tomato, Amy Goldman's new book on everyone's favorite fruit-vegetable, is an eye-popping , mouth-watering delight. On page after delicious page, the 258-page book provides offers up a cornucopia of history, etymology, botanical description and elegant, taste-teasing recipes, all of it served up through elegant writing and erudite scholarship, and ornamented richly with Victor Schrager's magnificent photographs.
My only regret is that the book is so pretty that it is hard to imagine abusing it in the two settings - the kitchen, and the garden -- in which it will surely find its highest and best use. Despite all the elegance, the publisher (Bloomsbury) has managed to keep the base price of the book at a very modest $35.
Robin Anthony Elliott, Tomatophile
New York City
August 26, 2008
on September 2, 2008
To say that Amy Goldman's The Heirloom Tomato is a stunningly beautiful book is, for anyone familiar with Goldman's earlier masterworks on squash and melons, merely to state the obvious. But the tomato which is, as the subtitle indicates, "the world's most beautiful fruit," turns out to be an incomparable seductress of the camera. Any reader who settles, however, for making this a coffee-table book and neglects a serious engagement with the text will have missed at least half the delight. The pleasure begins with photographer Victor Schrager's loving description of how these luscious photos were set up and Amy's surprising story of her life-long link to tomatoes including a cousin Tillie who brought Italy's famous San Mazano (see page 137) to America. Then--after the instructions for growing them yourself, and some help in understanding shapes, colors, flavors, textures, foliage and the like--come the tomato portraits, each accompanied by any technical detail you might need to know, plus a bit of absorbing history personal or otherwise. The recipes that end the book are, as you would expect, about celebrating these fruits for their versatility and flavor as well as their looks. A glorious book. Joan Dye Gussow
on October 18, 2008
Books are some of the greatest treasures we have in this life. Few, if any, other objects have the universal ability to make us laugh, to make us cry, to entertain us, to inspire us and to teach us. Fictional literature, the art of storytelling, entertains, inspires and sometimes teaches us by making us laugh, cry, think and appreciate. Non-fiction literature serves a different purpose. Its focus is to teach or inform us. Exceptional non-fiction literature teaches and informs us in an entertaining way which inspires us and causes us to think and to be appreciative.
Amy Goldman's books are some of the best non-fiction literature created in the fledgling 21st century, and with her newest book, The Heirloom Tomato, she has demonstrated that her skills as a writer, researcher and gardener are only becoming more refined. In my opinion, The Heirloom Tomato is the best book ever written on the tomato.
For more than 6 years now Ms. Goldman has collaborated with Victor Schrager, an accomplished photographer with exceptional talent. During the process of creating three extraordinary books on three of America's most beloved fruits and vegetables, these two have forged a partnership which allows them to communicate to their readers with a singleness of purpose that I have never encountered in any other literary partnership. Undoubtedly inspired by Amy's passion, her years of meticulous research and the abundance from her extensive trial gardens, Victor has created photographs which communicate to the reader the beauty, delicacy, even sensuality of these fruits and vegetables and, in some cases, the images are so exceptional you can almost recall the fragrance and the flavor.
The Heirloom Tomato is first and foremost a comprehensive resource on the tomato, beginning with a well written primer on growing, harvesting and saving the seed of tomatoes followed by a detailed archive, describing for approximately 200 different tomatoes, the size, weight, shape, skin color, flesh color, sweetness, flavor, texture, uses, plant habit, leaf type, yield, maturity, origins, synonyms, seed sources and history. As is true with all of her books, the facts contained in this resource material are well researched and reliable. The book is also a compendium of tomato recipes some of which are quite unique like the dessert recipe, Galette of White Peaches and Tomatoes, and the drink recipe, Tomato Water.
The Heirloom Tomato is also a gentle book, and it is this aspect of its character that moves it from the realm of good non-fiction literature to exceptional non-fiction literature. This book, like Goldman's other two books, Melons for the Passionate Grower and The Compleat Squash, are not `one-time reads'. The Heirloom Tomato is the kind of book you will look to for inspiration on a cold winter day in front of a warm fire. You will return year after year to page 15 to stare at those black tipped fingers ever so gently cradling that magnificent red tomato or to page 248 to view, yet again, the absolutely perfect still life entitled, Thai Pink Bouquet. It is the resource you will seek out and come to depend upon, when, after strolling through someone's vegetable garden, you spy a tomato you have never seen before. This is a book for learned gardeners, novice gardeners, chefs, cooks and even people who do not like to garden or cook, but just love the tomato. This book will teach and inform you, it will inspire you and cause you to pause and think, but most of all, after the first read and the many, many reads that will follow, it will endow you with an even greater appreciation for the tomato.
on March 10, 2012
I am an heirloom tomato addict. Small gardener gone wild! I grew 60 + varieties last year and am expanding to grow 100 this year. I am not quite done with this book yet but have thoroughly enjoyed reading some of Amy's methods of starting seeds, transplanting, pruning, mulching, harvesting, seeds saving etc. I was blown away by her 5 foot between each plant method, and that she doesnt experience any problems with blight and such. Blight is a tomato growers worst nightmare and I experience it every year due to over crowding! Changes are going to be made this year - TY Amy. Many of her methods I have not followed and have opened my eyes a bit. Being that she lives only 30 minutes from me in the Hudson Valley also helps relate to her as she talks about climate in our area. The pictures are amazing and better yet are Amy's detailed descriptions, orgins and other facts that one would not know. I especially enjoy the synonyms and other names for these tomatoes that I did not know. I find it funny how one tomato could have so many names. Amy - Thank you, maybe one day our paths will cross. My wife and I love the farmers market in Rhinebeck and the little Thai restuarant in town. Will look for you at the farmers market this year! Happy planting this year! - Jay -