Is it a gardening book or a food-lover's book? Who cares, when it's this beautifully crafted?
As a landscape designer looking to increase my value to potential clients, learning more about unusual edibles was an intensely appealing idea. But part of the problem I've had in the past when trying new things, is that my clients don't always know what to do with the unusual fruits and vegetables I help them grow, even though they're enthused about trying something new. And I don't always know the quirks of growing them, because, duh, they're unusual!
Enter The Food Lover's Garden. Diacono's skilled with both gardening and cooking, and shows extraordinary ways of using both usual and unusual plants in the kitchen. Many of my clients already grow Fuchsia magellenica, so having a recipe for fuchsia fruit leather was awesome. I can see myself lending my copy of the book to interested parties!
I also already grow Chilean Guava, a useful landscape shrub here in the Pacific Northwest, so being able to show my clients that this isn't JUST an ornamental, but can also be used in muffins, or to make a slightly exotic jam, is really fun. The juniper-like tang to the mildly sweet berries makes them fun enough to be worth the trouble to pick.
There are recipes using mizuna, medlars, daylilies, alpine strawberries, quince, sweet chestnut, blue honeysuckle, goji berries, Carolina allspice, and many, many more. The best thing about the recipes is that detailed tips are given in each, sharing what about the flavor or texture of the plant or fruit is shown off to best advantage in the recipe. This really helps when you're trying to create your own recipes later.
Another thing I love is that this recipe and gardening book is just plain fun to read. It's written in a conversational style, with lots of stories and quirk thrown in. So even though I usually read gardening books to learn, this is one that I read just for the sheer enjoyment of it.
If you're interested in growing a few unusual plants, or learning to better use the unusual plants you may already be growing (there are some for every climate), I think you'll enjoy spending some time with this book. I found some new ways to use favorite fruits and vegetables, some ideas for ornamental plants I never thought to eat, and some new plants to add to my "must-grow" list.