My judge of a food-history book: If it makes me starving, it’s a hit. Rebecca Rupp’s new oddball food book, “How Carrots Won the Trojan War,” will not blow up your diet. You’ll lose poundage laughing at it.

My judge of a food-history book: If it makes me starving, it’s a hit.

Rebecca Rupp’s new oddball food book, “How Carrots Won the Trojan War,” will not blow up your diet. You’ll lose poundage laughing at it.

True history beats novels every time. She proves it on almost every page in this compilation of curious (but true!) facts and quotes on our common veggie experience. Many are told in the notes of writers before her:

“No matter what your grandmother told you, carrots won’t give you nocturnal vision, any more than bread crusts will make your hair curl.”

She’s got this thing about carrots. The Trojans inside their big wooden horse munched carrots “to bind their bowels.”

The author thoroughly vets all claims in an 18-page bibliography. Attesting to Rebecca’s skills, it’s as readable as the rest. This is wry but concise writing:

“New York City transit officials dusted hot pepper on subway token slots to prevent unprincipled teenagers from sucking coins from the turnstiles.”

My favorite chapter is “Potatoes Baffle the Conquistadors.” Pity the poor Spanish explorer who encounters this fleshy lump for the first time and all the questions it raises: Baked or fried? Sour cream?

“Old potatoes well cooked and mealy are the best vegetable a child can eat, provided they were very well mashed since lumps have been known to send the young into convulsions.”

Maybe it’s just me, bit I love the ironic details, such as culinary celery seed being made from wild celery and not its cultivated cousin. In case you get on “Jeopardy!,” it’s called “smallage.”

Did you know lettuce once was an anti-aphrodisiac? But onions, found in the petrified brothels of Pompeii, were renown for “provoking carnal copulation.”

You would think a book about vegetables would include a celebration of vegetarianism. Not quite, as British critic J.B. Morton wrote:

“Vegetarians have wicked, shifty eyes and laugh in a cold, calculating manner. They pinch little children, steal stamps, drink water and favor beards.”

Rebecca Rupp’s roots, so to speak, are in writing children’s books, and it shows. Many traditional histories still are composed in academic style with run-on sentences crying for endings. Rebecca’s are comfortable and punchy, begging us to read on and memorize for the next cocktail party.

You know you’re in for a good one when the dedication reads:

“For Randy, who runs the rototiller.”

Contact Jim Hillibish at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.