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Forgotten Fruits: A Guide to Britain's Traditional Fruit and Vegetables Hardcover – 1 May 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905211805
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905211807
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 530,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A widely published journalist, editor and copywriter, Christopher has written for, among others, the Daily Telegraph, ES, Patek Philippe magazine and Wallpaper, reporting on everything from Uruguayan beach resorts to an underground submarine base off the Swedish coast.

Forgotten Fruits was shortlisted for the André Simon Prize and chosen by Monty Don as "my favourite book of the year".

Christopher has recently finished a year as features editor for House & Garden magazine, and writes a perfume blog called thesniffbox.com. For more information see www.christopherstocks.com

Product Description

Review

... handsome and readable ... will be enjoyed by people interested in the diversity of British fruit and vegetables and the stories behind their development. --Joy Larkcom, The Garden, September 2008

...my favourite book of the year. Written with passion and real knowledge of his subject ... you will be inspired. --Monty Don, Daily Mail

a feast of pleasure . fantastic, meticulously researched, wonderful descriptions, lots of anecdotes, lots of practical advice . a serious work and fascinating read ... plenty of humour . hugely important. --Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time - a Book of the Year.

From the Publisher

Shortlisted for the Andre Simon Book Awards 2008

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Aug 2008
Format: Hardcover
Christopher Stock's book is such a nice, anti-market forces type of book. Stocks has gone all over Britain to research the stories of heritage fruit and veg varieties - the kind that taste really good but maybe don't look quite as uniform, neat and tidy. There's the right amount of history - from the French spy Frézier to Charlotte Knight, cherry breeder - and he's not pretending to have solved every puzzle - the Bascombe Mystery remains just that.

Each variety is treated in a section that's just the right length - about a page or so. The first section alone, Apples, made me want to go to an Apple day and actually try some of the fragrant fruit he enthuses about - the Cornish Gilliflower, the Crawley Beauty. There's lots of practical info in there too - Dumelow's seedling has better flavour and texture than a Bramley for mincemeat and baking, for example. Good lists of suppliers and historic veg gardens to visit, too.

i don't know whether I will ever read it all the way through, but it's such a treat for a bathroom - ten minutes in the bath with this utterly relaxing book and you feel the woes and stresses of everyday life sink away as you ponder the Long Green Ridge Cucumber and other marvels of yesteryear.

My only, only complaint would be that the two sections of colour photos seemed like a bit of a waste of time. The black and white engravings which pepper the text are much more evocative.

My favourite bit: finding out that the radish was "rated so far above other foods" in Ancient Greece that "in the Temple of Apollo a radish modelled in gold was dedicated as a votive offering."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By F on 17 July 2009
Format: Hardcover
My dad is a keen gardener, and has been since the year dot. He's into organic, traditional techniques, and likes unusual produce varieties, so I thought this book might be a nice gift for him.

There are some interesting illustrations and the individual sections on each type of produce are informative, yet short enough to be able to dip in and out of this book. It was definitely written by an enthusiast, and there are some useful reference links at the back.

This book is a lovely, light-weight, uplifting read which might appeal to anyone interested in fruit/veg gardening, unusual varieties of produce and British agricultural history.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By S. K. Phillips on 28 May 2008
Format: Hardcover
A charming glimpse into the highways and byways of England's horticultural (and culinary) history, illuminated by fascinating anecdotes. Perfect for dipping into and strongly recommended for gardeners and cooks alike.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Charles R. Cowling on 7 May 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like the best fruit and veg, this delicious book appeals to all the senses at once. Meticulously researched, it dispels a few allotment myths, fixes facts and sets the record straight in a number of instances. It will be devoured greedily by hard-headed horticulturists and dewy-eyed nostalgics alike; for the historian it supplies a ticklish, oblique insight into Britain's social history. This is a serious and definitive work of fact liltingly well written, bathed in warm, light humour. It is both a work of delight and a work of reference. For lovers of language there is a euphony in plant names which places them right up there with Dorset place names. They taste as well in the mouth as their subjects. Savour them: Cranston's Excelsior, Vaux's Self-Folding, Hero of the Nile, Long Prickly...

This book has no rivals. It deserves to be established in discriminating bookshelves everywhere, planted where it can be easily and frequently reached.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a lovely idea for a book, but is ultimately disappointing in execution.

The book follows the 'catalogue' format, with a short entry for each variety. There's nothing wrong with that, but phrases like "whatever the truth..." pepper each entry, reflecting the author's inability to obtain firm information. I appreciate that the origin of many varieties is obscure, but a lot of the entries in here read like the product of basic online or general library research (at one point the author states that further details may yet be found in local archives or newspapers - why didn't he do more of this kind of research, in that case?)

It's also in need of a more thorough editing. As an example of the rather patchy nature of the writing - looking at the entry that happens to be in front of me - the entry on the Norfolk Biffin or Beefing lists the apple as "Norfolk Beefing", yet goes on to say the name was more commonly given in the form "Biffin"; states that it was enjoyed cold but then describes how it was usually cooked; and neglects to mention the central point of interest about the Biffin's preparation, that it was pressed during cooking, despite including a Dickens quote elliptically alluding to the pressing.

Some better known varieties, like Cox's Orange Pippin, get more attention, but they are hardly 'forgotten'. Many of the entries on more obscure varieties are thin four or five liners: you could get the same information from a cursory internet search in most cases. The book seems lacking in the wonderful anecdotes mentioned by some reviewers and while easy enough to read has a style that manages to be both breathless and a little flat.

This would probably be a suitable introduction for those with a very basic knowledge of the subject, but for the serious gardener, grower or historian it doesn't really stack up against the work of the likes of Richard Mabey.
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