Amy Goldman: The Heirloom Tomato
It has taken me a few weeks time to muster up the courage to write about this very book. For no other reason than the fact that it is my blog's namesake. It is like commenting on fashion after reading the annals of Vogue, or sharing your thoughts on politics to the nearest, listening governor. Even better, it is being a backseat driver (we are talking caboose) or being a sideline parent yelling recommendations to the referee, from his/her ideally angled position. This book is called the Heirloom Tomato. Author Amy Goldman wrote two similar books on melons and squash; both of which were front and center in Martha Stewart magazine. She is guru to tomato, and this book includes no less than a scientific, historic and neighborly description of 250 tomato varieties. The photos are museum quality, mountable to my every wall (oooh, I like that idea: tomato pictures on my every wall). The photos by Victor Schrager reflect his talent and serve justice to all tomatoes involved.
Can I even be unbiased? If I were to pick a coffee table book out of 200 of the most impressive, I would be magnetized to this one, and all of its tomato love. My biases aside, author Amy Goldman can be credited with giving tomatoes their due. She champions them, preserves their seeds, documents and scientifically defines them. Over half the pages in the book archive countless varieties---each with a cover-worthy photo. But then she does not leave us hanging: she touches on the importance of biodiversity, shares her gardening methods and provides a mound of recipes to round out this tribute to tomatoes.
I named my blog as an example of a food that I found intriguing and versatile. But cooking and growing tomatoes myself, and seeing---and reading about---the dedication of someone like Amy Goldman, makes me fall in love with my blog's namesake all the more.
It cheers me to have this book displayed in my home. It cheers me to know I have cherry tomatoes outside, basking in the sun. It makes my heart swell with happiness to think of the jars of roasted tomatoes I have in the refrigerator and the frozen, homemade tomato sauce I have stored in the freezer. Tomatoes add much to my life: and it satisfies my soul to know someone cares enough to carefully cull seeds from massive amounts of tomatoes, to save them from oblivion. Tomato seeds are being saved in a vault; tomatoes are here to stay.
I cannot wait to make her recipe for creamy tomato soup, baked black cod with tomato butter, tomato chips and the Thai tomato cocktail. And you will know when I do, because I will be talking of tomatoes---literally.
A few highlights from The Heirloom Tomato:
- You will appreciate the importance of crop diversity, and will wish you could taste beyond the grocery store variety. You may decide to frequent more Farmer Markets, or order your own tomato seeds.
- This book is fitting for agricultural historians, casual and master gardeners, cooks and coffee table owners.
- Tomatoes are documented by: size and weight, shape, color, soluble solids (Brix ratings to determine sweetness), flavor, texture and best uses, plant habit and leaf type, yield, maturity, origin, synonyms, and seed sourcing.
- Vegetable MD Online was regularly offered by Goldman, as a resource for gardeners.
- Seed Savers Exchange (www.seedsavers.org) is a brilliant resource for ordering your own heirloom seeds.
- You will learn how to grow---and save---pure tomato varietals; Goldman provides step by step instructions for seed processing.
- Tomatoes in all their historical glory, offer over 5000 cultivated varieties; Amy trialed more than a thousand, many of them twice to validate her results. In this book you will find 250 gems.
- A cool place to buy cookbooks, including this one: ecookbooks.
- Click here for a list of articles about Amy Goldman.
- Click here for the Martha Stewart article on The Heirloom Tomato.
You know I love talking about tomatoes---and I could go on and on---but I seriously need to go outside and water my own humble tomatoes.