Early review: Tomato Rhapsody

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

I lucked out on my first receipt of a book from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer feature:

Read it! Read it!!

Tomato Rhapsody, by Adam Schell. Wow. Just – wow. I really wasn’t sure when I started … but wow – e cosi bello!

I’ll never look at tomato sauce the same way again.

It was an extraordinary book. It’s a fable about how the tomato came to Europe, and how it overcame the strange, popular prejudice that it was extremely and immediately poisonous, to become inseparable from Italian cuisine. It’s also about a wicked stepfather, the oppression of Jews in early Renaissance Europe, the curing of olives, Christopher Columbus, Catholic missionaries in Africa, sanitation, copulation, and celebration. It’s a romance (not a love story), basically Romeo and Juliet if the lovers had been older and there had been someone sensible in Fair Verona. Everything in the story has meaning and significance: a donkey’s bray, a shaft of sunlight, a drop of holy water. The story is earthy – sometimes downright crude – as well as golden, rapturous, euphoric – and yes, rhapsodic. It is both sprawling and intimate, with a good-sized cast of characters who do not come across as “characters”; these are people, wildly individual and altogether real.

Some might find the rhyming dialogue cloying, or indeed find it no better than annoying. But I find that the couplets to my inner ear became as natural and simple as, dare I say, Shakespeare. (I was tempted to write an entire review in rhyme, but it would take forever; I just don’t have the time.)

Read this book. But first make sure your pantry is well stocked with good olive oil, good bread, eggplant (try the Good Padre’s idea in Chapter 3 – it’s wonderful), fresh herbs – and tomatoes. Definitely tomatoes. Lots of them.

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7 Responses to Early review: Tomato Rhapsody

  1. accountantgrrl says:

    Wow! That book sounds interesing. I’ll have to put it on my “To-Read” list on Goodreads.

  2. Adam Schell says:

    You have no idea how happy you made my mother!

    What a beautiful review. Thank you. You seemed to have connected with everything I was going for. If you email me an address, I’d be happy to send you an signed copy.

    Mille Grazie!
    A. Schell

  3. stewartry says:

    Wow! Hi! Prego! I loved the book, thoroughly, and it’s wonderful to be able to let you – and others – know. Congratulations on a marvel of a book – I hope it sells as well as it deserves! I will email, thank you.

    You have recipes on your website (which loads with the sound of a donkey’s bray…), and your next book is a) in the works, and b) about chocolate? Oh, you are awesome! :)

  4. Patty says:

    Now that I’ve found you,I will take some time to look through your site at leisure.

    Gee, with the name of Stewart, you must be quite an awesome gal!

  5. stewartry says:

    Hallo, cousin! Hope you like it!

  6. Pam says:

    WOW!!! I’m going right out to get this book! I LOVE to read anything pertaining to food….you should see my cookbook collection!! ;)

  7. stewartry says:

    You’ll love it. He’s got recipes on his website, too – http://www.adamschell.com/

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