Toby with a prolific lemon tree in California

Toby with a prolific lemon tree in California

I am in love with lemons– history, botany, cuisine and all. I am also very fond of the places they grow best, Ventura County in Southern California, Sicily, the Amalfi Coast in Italy…..

You can read about it all in my newly published book, Lemon: A Global History, part of Reaktion Books’ wonderful Edible Series of food histories.

My two previous books are Fruit Fields in My Blood: Okie Migrants in the West (University of Idaho, 1992) and Shared Sorrows: A Gypsy Family Remembers the Holocaust (University of Hertfordshire, UK, 2002).

I also make the colored-pencil drawings you see here occasionally:

Table at the Eugenia Motel, Carpinteria

Table at the Eugenia Motel, Carpinteria

And I picked fruit for sixteen years. Mostly cherries, apples and pears, but I did have a stint picking citrus–oranges and grapefruit– in Florida many years ago.

Picking grapefruit near Lakeland, Florida, 1974

Picking grapefruit (for juice) near Lakeland, Florida, 1974.

I also love cooking with lemons, so you’ll find some recipes and cooking tips on the posts as I go along…

The delectable lemon tart, French style

The delectable lemon tart, French style


10 responses to “Toby

  1. Joan Gaasland-Smith

    Grazie per il tuo bello “blog.” Mi piace molto.

  2. Jerry Abel

    Hello Toby:
    I was introduced to your web site by your son, Zac. We work together. I am a painter. I put the final finish on your son’s wonderful work. During conversations with Zac about cooking, I told him I was nuts for lemons! He then mentioned you! I have picked lemons on the Amalfi Coast. I also love to bake so I will try to do my best on your receipes. I have included my email address if in the future you send anything out. It’s great to find your web site.
    Jerry Abel
    Petaluma, California

  3. Kate Sackett

    Loved your lecture yesterday Toby! Went home and had some delicious lemonade!

  4. Catherine

    I just discovered your site. I LOVE LEMONS! I used to eat lemons like they were oranges. Drove my parents crazy. I am in my late 50’s and still search for new or different lemon recipes. Mille Grazie for your wonderful site!

    • lemonodyssey

      Glad to hear from you, Catherine! You must be part-Sicilian (they eat lemons like oranges), at least in spirit.
      Let me know of any enticing lemon recipes you discover. Thanks for visiting the site,

      • Catherine

        Ciao Toby!
        Thank you so much for your reply. You are close, I am Italian. I have a question: I am unable to find the recipe for pickled lemons. If I remember correctly, the recipe included paprika. The photo shows the lemons in a glass jar and they look like they have some coloring.
        I appreciate your help.
        Mille Grazie!

      • lemonodyssey

        hi Cat, The pickled lemons in question are from Diana Henry’s book, “Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons” and just calls for organic lemons, coarse sea salt, paprika and olive oil. Her directions are as follows: 1. Wash and slice the lemons. Put the slices in a colander set over a bowl, sprinkling with salt as you go. Leave overnight to drain off the moisture. 2. Layer the lemon slices in a jar, sprinkling paprika between each layer, until the jar is full. Cover with extra-virgin olive oil. They’ll be ready to eat in about three weeks.

        She recommends thin-skinned lemons and recommends serving them with grilled fish, chicken or fatty lamb chops. I like preserved lemons in grain salads, tuna salads, etc. good luck, Toby

  5. Hi Toby- I just started reading your book Lemon: A Global History, and I’m loving it. I lead a book club at San Francisco’s 18 Reasons, and we’ve chosen your book for our April 2013 selection. Would you be interested in joining us as a special guest at our April meeting? It is the same weekend you’ll be at Omnivore Books in San Francisco.

    We’d love to have you join us!

  6. Jeri Quinzio

    Love your blog – and lemons. I’m writing to ask you to contact me regarding the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Sweets. We would love to have you contribute an entry on lemonade. I’ll tell you more —

    Jeri Quinzio (author of Pudding: A Global History)

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