Friday, September 12, 2008

The Heirloom Tomato, From Garden To Table

I haven't read The Heirloom Tomato, nor do I have a copy to refer to but I did get to see the author Amy Goldman speak yesterday. She's a storyteller.

I nearly didn't go. The event was at lunch time, across Market Street, my shoes were uncomfortable. How interesting could tomatoes be? Ha! Amy Goldman is not a little gardener with a couple of pretty tomatoes. She's Chair of the Board of Seeds Savers, she trialed 1,000 varieties of tomatoes for her book in which she features her favorite 200. And if I understood her correctly she grew all 200 varieties in her garden. She's a heavyweight in the tomato world.

And a heavyweight in the seed world. She calls hybrids and GMO's, "tools of industry," and our ability to save seeds necessary for food security.

Amy Goldman described the taste of tomatoes like someone who knows their wine. She used words I've not associated with tomatoes. I want what she's having, I thought. And she's having some good looking tomatoes with snappy names: Bonny's Best, Reisetomate. Aunt Gerties was one of her favorites. There was White Beauty, Cassady's Folly. Radiator Charlies had a funny story. There were Roman Candles and German Pinks. Not any of which are likely to be found in a grocery store. These are not tools of industry. These are tomatoes to bring from the garden to the table as the title suggests.

The book is a display piece, glossy photos, recipes (that sound good), growing information. It was all I could do to leave without buying a copy. I still want it and I'm not a cookbook or coffee table kind of a girl. But I do like a good tomato and this book has a couple hundred to choose from.

"Keep them alive," she said. "Save the seeds." Check out the book and you'll likely be inspired too. I was.

As anyone else seen this book or heard of Amy Goldman? Are you growing tomatoes with names of old relatives or faraway places?


Green Bean said...

That sounds wonderful! I am growing heirloom tomatoes but they are from Seed Savers, I think. Not something lovingly passed down from generation to generation. Of course, I can start that now, can't I? I can be the one to start saving seeds and pass them down.

The book looks lovely. I'll have to see if my library has it.

Anonymous said...

I've heard her speak on public radio (Chef's Table?) about another book of hers which is about types of squash and also possibly more recently about the tomato book. She is very interesting. I have read some articles that showed pictures of her gardening area where she grows all the plants that she is testing/describing.

Kale for Sale said...

green bean - I'm not an expert but I think you're already there as Seed Savers sells the heirloom seeds already lovingly passed down from the generations. Of course you can add your own experience as the stories you pass on with the seeds and it doesn't get any better than that.

susanb - My next stop is to check out the squash book. Thank you. Amy Goldman said she gives a lot of her tomatoes and garden produce away. How delicious would it be to be her neighbor!