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The Search for the Perfect Tomato

List Price: $15.95

March 8, 2011 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 304 Pages | ISBN 9781582437125
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“A substantive and engaging reflection on lycopersicon esculentum and its transformation from early modern botanical curiosity to twentieth-century dietary staple.” —Boston Globe

As savory as any vegetable, as sweet as its fellow fruits, it inspires a cultlike devotion on all continents. The inimitable, versatile tomato has conquered the cuisines of Spain and Italy, and in America it is our most popular garden delicacy. Arthur Allen understands the spell of the tomato and he’s our guide to its dramatic story.

He begins by describing in mouthwatering detail the wonder of a truly delicious tomato, and then introduces the man who prospected for wild tomato genes in South America and made them available to tomato breeders. The story of enslaved Mexican Indians in the Florida tomato fields is followed by the tale of how the Chinese army mastered the art of canning tomatoes. Combining reportage, archival research, and innumerable anecdotes in a lively narrative seen through the lens of today’s global market, here is a story that will resonate from the greenhouse to the dinner table.

ARTHUR ALLEN, a former Associated Press foreign correspondent, has written for the New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, the Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, Slate, Smithsonian, and Salon. He lives in Washington, D.C.


“A substantive and engaging reflection on lycopersicon esculentum and its transformation from early modern botanical curiosity to twentieth-century dietary staple.” —Boston Globe

“A robust tale of how tomatoes get to the table and why some don’t taste very good when they get there… An eye opener for foodies, consumers, and social justice activists alike.” —Kirkus

“Arthur Allen’s tomato odyssey takes him to every link in its production chain, from genetics to Chinese packing companies. Anyone who cares about how tomatoes taste will be fascinated by this journey, will never view pizza sauce the same way again, and will treasure those backyard summer wonders even more.” —Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat

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