At the tips of our forks and on our dinner plates, a buffet of botanical dalliance awaits us. Sex and food are intimately intertwined, and this relationship is nowhere more evident than among the plants that sustain us. From lascivious legumes to horny hot peppers, most of humanity’s calories and other nutrition come from seeds and fruits—the products of sex—or from flowers, the organs that make plant sex possible. Sex has also played an arm’s-length role in delivering plant food to our stomachs, as human handmade evolution (plant breeding, or artificial selection) has turned wild species into domesticated staples.
In Sex on the Kitchen Table, Norman C. Ellstrand takes us on a vegetable-laced tour of this entire sexual adventure. Starting with the love apple (otherwise known as the tomato) as a platform for understanding the kaleidoscopic ways that plants can engage in sex, successive chapters explore the sex lives of a range of food crops, including bananas, avocados, and beets, finally ending with genetically engineered squash—a controversial, virus-resistant vegetable created by a process that involves the most ancient form of sex. Peppered throughout are original illustrations and delicious recipes, from sweet and savory tomato pudding to banana puffed pancakes, avocado toast (of course), and both transgenic and non-GMO tacos.
An eye-opening medley of serious science, culinary delights, and humor, Sex on the Kitchen Table offers new insight into fornicating flowers, salacious squash, and what we owe to them. So as we sit down to dine and ready for that first bite, let us say a special grace for our vegetal vittles: let’s thank sex for getting them to our kitchen table.