- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: University of South Carolina Press; 1st edition (October 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1570030006
- ISBN-13: 978-1570030000
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,242,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Tomato in America: Early History, Culture, and Cookery Hardcover – October 1, 1994
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From Library Journal
Did you think that tomatoes were not in this country before the 1880s? And did you think that this was because they were considered to be poisonous or aphrodisiacal? Since 1987, writer and lecturer Smith has been researching references to tomatoes. After examining 50,000 sources, which he says does not by any means exhaust the material, Smith traces the history of this most popular fruit/vegetable-one that is now grown by more home gardeners in this country than any other food. The evidence he presents, drawn from newspapers, letters, diaries, and cookbooks, refutes the popular myths and supports his thesis that the tomato was cultivated for culinary and medicinal uses from early Colonial times and was introduced to the American colonies on numerous separate occasions. Smith also includes a selection of recipes from early cookbooks and magazines. Chapters are supported by extensive references. The book concludes with a classified bibliography and a list of heirloom seed sources and tomato organizations. While lacking the narrative appeal and readability of other books about individual plants, this is a thorough and useful reference, making available masses of material not otherwise available. (Index not seen.)-Carol Cubberley, Univ. of Southern Mississippi
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Finally, a reliable work on the history of the tomato in America! The author, a thorough researcher and delightful writer, presents facts with authority and myths with exposure... The definitive study on the subject." -- John F. Swenson, Chicago Botanic Garden "Andrew F. Smith easily qualifies as the major-domo of tomato history." -- Chicago Tribune "At last, at long last, the true history of the tomato in the United States is being told." -- Karen Hess, Food Heritage Press "Smith's work is fascinating reading... This volume immerses us in tomato lore and whets our appetite for a juicy bite of that scarlet fruit." -- Wilson Library Bulletin "A thorough and useful reference, making available masses of material not otherwise available." -- Library Journal --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
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While the "great tomato pill debate" could have perhaps been covered in a little less depth for my own taste, I have to appreciate the author's personal insight (at least the benign tomato pills reduced the use of calomel) as well as "just the facts." Of course, the facts are there, too. It's very well researched.
Well worth the read for any vegetable historian or committed tomato grower!
Tomatoes originated in Mexico: wrong.
Our early ancestors thought they were poisonous: mostly wrong. Or aphrodisiac: wrong.
That opinions were changed when a man named Johnson ate tomatoes in a public display, where hundreds of people had gathered expecting to see him die: wrong.
The facts, as related in Andrew Smith's "The Tomato in America," are more interesting, although related too repetitively and carelessly edited.
It appears that tomatoes -- or tomatas as the word was usually written up to the 1830s -- were well established as a food in some parts of the English colonies around the time of Declaration of Independence, like South Carolina. They were also eaten in the British Isles, usually with salt, pepper and oil -- novices were instructed that they could be eaten "like cucumbers."
However, the tomato/tomata had a gaudier career in the new republic. It was not just a food but a medicine, and there was a lively war over tomato pills in the 1830s, followed by a tomato mania which, if not as fabulous as the Dutch tulip frenzy, lasted longer.
Smith includes a big selection of early tomato recipes, which for the most part comprised equal parts tomatoes and sugar, cooked to a goo. The results sound gag-inducing to a modern palate.
Smith's book was published by the University of South Carolina Press in 1994, and that press may have been interested because South Carolina was where tomatoes really got established in what later became the United States (although they were eaten in the old Spanish Southwest, too). It was reissued in 2001 by the University of Illinois Press, the only time I have ever noticed one university press picking up a recent title from another.
Tomatoes are one of god's gifts and if you have the least bit of interest in this amazing fruit, get this book. The history of the tomato and how it arrived on people's plates after centuries of neglect is way more interesting than any Bond film. The author's research is meticulous.
Also, the back of this book has historic recipes from the 1800's that use tomatoes. This of course could spur someone to pursue a career in archeological gastronomy. The bottom line is I love this book and it is one of my top 5 most prized books.
-- Indiana Tomato Lover