Back to San Marzano

On the 10th I posted here on pizza, especially Neapolitan pizza, where I quoted from Wikipedia:

Authentic Neapolitan pizza (pizza napoletana) is typically made with San Marzano tomatoes grown on the volcanic plains south of Mount Vesuvius, and mozzarella di bufala Campana made with the milk from water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio. This mozzarella is protected with its own European protected designation of origin.

Then on the 16th, along came Nicholas Blechman (website here), the art director for the NYT Book Review, with a 10-panel piece “The Mystery of San Marzano”, in the Sunday Review about those tomatoes: it turns out that their name is protected in the E.U. too. The third panel:


As Blechman notes in the sixth panel,

In the European Union, tomatoes can be labeled San Marzano only if they meet the stringent criteria of a government-approved consortium, or consorzio. Every detail is regulated.

But in the U.S., tomatoes grown elsewhere, including in China, are sold as San Marzanos. Blechman’s final panel:

In a panic over which tomato paste to buy for my sauce, I go to Gustiamo in the Bronx and pay $34.40 for Italian tomato products. That’s the price of authenticity in a globalized food economy.

I then went to see what the Contadina people do with their whole plum tomatoes in a can, and discovered this:


Not actually “San Marzano” tomatoes, but “San Marzano style” (in small type) tomatoes. Hmm.

In other news, on the 15th it was announced that Blechman was leaving the Times to become creative director at the New Yorker.

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