A fascinating book that’s a collection of odd-but-true facts and stories about common vegetables. Get historical story after story about the role of garden foods in the lives of well-known, and some lesser-known, characters! By GreenPrints Contributing Editor Becky Rupp. Paperback book, fully indexed, 376 pages.
Becky Rupp’s superb writing is always a stunning combination of erudition, whimsy, insight, and wit. And in her book How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables, you get Rupp’s writing style applied to mountains of morsels about the role of vegetables in history:
- Carrots were considered anti-laxatives, which is why, according to legend, Greek soldiers hiding in the Trojan Horse ate them to “bind their bowels,” so they wouldn’t have to exit the horse and spoil their surprise. The carrot variety that Agamemnon’s men ate would have been purple-colored and multi-branched natives of Afghanistan: conical carrots didn’t turn up in Europe until the 12th century, and it took Dutch breeders to develop orange varieties four centuries later.
- Sweet peas also evolved, bred from a variety so tough that our ancestors must have peeled and roasted them, according to some biologists.
- But what happened to corn was quite different. Now, corn is so dependent on human tending that it can no longer manage its own reproduction. In this book, discover why Roman gladiators were massaged with onion juice before battle, how celery contributed to Casanova’s conquests, how peas almost poisoned General George Washington, and why some seventeenth-century turnips were considered degenerate.
Read all about the strange and fascinating history of 23 of the world’s most popular vegetables. Gardeners, foodies, history buffs, and anyone who wants to know the secret stories concealed in a salad are sure to enjoy this delightful and informative collection.
“A remarkably informative, authoritative, and flavorful history of garden vegetables, spiced by humor and rich with discoveries. Highly recommended.”
James MacGregor Burns, gardener and Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian
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