The Land Where Lemons Grow

By Helena Attlee,

Book cover of The Land Where Lemons Grow: The Story of Italy and Its Citrus Fruit

Book description

The Land Where Lemons Grow is the sweeping story of Italy's cultural history told through the history of its citrus crops. From the early migration of citrus from the foothills of the Himalayas to Italy's shores to the persistent role of unique crops such as bergamot (and its place in…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Land Where Lemons Grow as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I loved this book because I really learned something new - in this case, the origins of the many different citrus fruits (who knew there were so many?) and how they crossed the world and ended up being cultivated in Italy.

I loved the way the author really took us to the citrus groves and those who manage them, as well as sharing some fascinating history along the way (such as how the Mafia originally formed to protect Sicilian lemon farmers). But mostly, I loved this book because the writing is just as mouthwatering as the subject matter it relates…

This book combines the best in travel writing with history, art, and food. Attlee takes the readers through Italy, from Lake Garda’s lemon houses and the gardens of Tuscan villas to the scented bergamot groves in Calabria to a marmalade kitchen in Sicily. Along the way, we learn about the “garden poem,” a genre of poetry practiced in the 10th and 11th centuries by Islamic poets living in Sicily. The book also includes recipes for a chocolate tart from Capri, a lamb stew from a 13th-century Arabic cookbook, candied peels, and drinks using the abundant variety…

From Ngoc's list on why everyone loves gardening.

I fell in love with this book after just a few pages. It’s a beautifully descriptive and colourful account of the significance of citrus fruit in Italy, from the days of the first introduction of the citron to Calabria in the 1st Century to today’s cultivation of blood oranges on the plains beneath Mount Etna.   

Written with great charm and humour, the author weaves this part-travelogue effortlessly in and out of history and horticulture with stories and recipes as we learn fascinating facts about the citron (still essential, for example, for the celebration of the Sukkoth festival by Lubavitcher Jews),…

From Anna's list on the cultural importance of trees.

When it’s cold and dreary outside and you long for sunnier climes, this book is just the tonic. Helena delves into the story of Italian history through the country’s citrus fruits, combining history, recipes, horticulture, and art. The Land Where Lemons Grow left me with the jasminy smell of orange blossom fixed to my nostrils long after I put the book down. 

From Chris' list on to immerse you in plants.

This is the book that inspired me to write about food culture and history in the south of France. Helena Attlee takes the reader on a unique journey through the history of Italy and its citrus fruit. Thoroughly researched and lightly written, the narrative blends historical and scholarly material with contemporary anecdotes such as the Mafia’s role in Sicilian lemon farming. Among other stories, we discover the importance of sour oranges in Renaissance cooking, and we learn how a storm led to the creation of Dundee’s marmalade industry. And if the reader has any lingering doubts about the importance of…

From Colin's list on food books for thinking, not cooking.

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