Saturday, 11 September 2010

Pomodoro! and Stuffed Roma Tomatoes

I am always fascinated by culinary history and the tomato certainly has had an interesting rise to glory. This old world vegetable is from the New World, is botanically a fruit, and was initially considered poisonous. So how did the tomato come to symbolize Italy? David Gentilcore takes us through hundreds of years of immigration, emigration, cultivation, and celebration of the fabulous tomato.
I have to admit, I enjoyed learning lessons in world history along the way, (Fascism, colonization, war, art, and depression) and indeed Gentilcore is a history teacher, with an interest in Italy.
But, like a history teacher, the presentation is sometimes dry. Perhaps it is more a statement of post-internet readers - but I found my mind wandering from time to time and wonder if shorter chapters and more humour or punch would liven up the text.
I did enjoy the scattering of historic recipes for the tomato and included one here - tomatoes stuffed with anchovies, parsley, garlic, herbs and breadcrumbs. Mmmm, these would be the perfect side for a grilled steak.

A History of the Tomato in Italy
David Gentilcore
Hardcover, 272 pages

From, "A Selection of Vincenzo Corrado's Tomato Recipes"
in the chapter, "They Are to Be Enjoyed"

Pomidori alla Napolitana (Tomatoes, Neapolitan Style)
After cleaning the tomatoes of their skins and cutting them in half, you will remove their seeds and place them on a sheet of paper greased with oil in a baking tray. You will fill the tomato halves with anchovies, parsley, oregano, and garlic, all finely chopped and seasoned with salt and pepper. Having covered the tomatoes with bread crumbs, you will bake them in the oven, and serve them.

*I am not afraid of a little tomato skin, so I didn't peel them. At the time the recipe was written, I believe they still thought the skins were inedible. Also, I am lazy. Not a peeler.