The Legend of the San Marzano Tomato

According to Gotham

Not so many centuries ago in a faraway place the King of Peru took a trip to see the King of Naples. As a gift he brought the King of Naples seeds from the most precious fruit in Peru, the tomato.

The King of Naples planted the seeds in the valley of San Marzano, below Mount Vesuvius. After tasting his first tomato, the King of Naples declared it the best-tasting fruit anyone had ever had. The tomato’s popularity grew and grew and grew; soon all the farms were growing tomatoes, and people from all around had heard of the San Marzano tomato. It became the most famous tomato in all the world, and Naples became very rich—all because of the San Marzano tomato.

One day some smart men showed the King of Naples a new tomato. It looked the same, except it could be farmed with machines, and they promised that more tomatoes could be sold and Naples would become even richer. The King decreed that all farms were to plant the new tomato, and that the farms were to use the new machines to make more tomatoes.

At first, the town became richer and richer, but then people started to say the tomato was not the same, it didn’t taste as good, it wasn’t as sweet. Naples began to suffer. The King didn’t know what to do since all the farms were growing the new tomato and no one had the first tomato’s seeds anymore.

He searched all over for the old tomato, and one day he found Farmer Luigi di Verite. Luigi owned a small plot of land on the very edge of San Marzano, where he grew tomatoes in his garden. The King asked Luigi for a tomato. The King gave the tomato from Luigi to the most famous chef in Naples to taste. The chef sliced the tomato and even before tasting it, he could tell it was different. When tasting confirmed his highest hope, he squealed with joy: “This is it, this is it, this is the San Marzano tomato!”

The King took the tomato and its seeds, decreeing that no tomato in San Marzano would thereafter be grown except from the seeds of farmer Luigi Verite. It wasn’t long before all the world was once again celebrating the San Marzano tomato, and Naples flourished again. The King and the people were even happier than before, and the San Marzano tomato will always be the star of Naples.

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