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They Call Me Produce Pete: Food, Memories, and Cherished Family Recipes from America’s Favorite Expert on Fruit and Vegetables
Peter Napolitano and Susan Bloom. Peter Napolitano and Susan Bloom, $18 trade paper (206p) ISBN 979-8-9869883-1-3
Grocer and TV personality Napolitano dishes up a delightful memoir-with-recipes about his lifelong involvement in the produce business. He begins by illustrating how his Italian immigrant parents—the sometimes challenging Peter and loving, creative Peggy—dedicated themselves to their modest New Jersey produce shop in the 1950s, attending funerals in shifts so they could keep the store open. Though Peter wanted his two sons to go to college, Napolitano opted to take over the family business instead. A chance customer visit in 1989 led to an invitation to appear on a Fox syndicate in Seacaucus, N.J., to discuss the Chilean grape contamination scare dominating the news at the time. He went off-script, concluding the segment by popping a few grapes into his mouth before going to commercial, leaving the audience in suspense until the cameras caught him in the studio alive and well. From there, a TV produce star was born: he was brought on for a regular segment at the station, and in the early 1990s, Matt Lauer recommended him for a spot on WNBC’s Weekend Today in New York, which he’s held ever since. Napolitano is an affable narrator, coming across like an enthusiastic uncle who’d like you to clean your plate, and his copious food knowledge is genuinely enlightening (particularly a section comparing vertical and hydroponic farming). Readers will be nourished by Napolitano’s spirit as much as his recipes. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 09/08/2023

Release date 02/01/2023