This afternoon I returned this book to Amazon, as I was quite disappointed when it had arrived. How on earth could this have happened? Because everything seemed to promise a highly needed addition to my cooking books library, when I read about this book, and decided to order it. The chapters are not in order of ingredient or type of dish, but rather of place of origin: "From the Garden," "From the Sea," "From the Root Cellar," "Fruits of the Earth," "Harvest Basics." Sounds great, doesn't it? Besides that, the book is all about using local and seasonal poduce. And OMG I would like to have a house with a root cellar. I was allready off with dreams of romantic photographs of rustic cellars with baskets full of stunning parsnips.
"From the Garden" offers recipes for crops that grow in summer (think English Pea and Lettuce Soup with Chive Cream), "From the Sea" needs no explanation, although it merely concentrates on New England's range of seafood and shellfish (American Fried Clams with Tartar Sauce); "From the Root Cellar" brings you recipes for root vegetables (Potato Galette Stuffed with Greens and Gruyére; Roast Chicken with Roasted Garlic-Herb Butter and Roasted Vegetables). "Fruits of the Earth" not only was said to bring recipes for dessert, but also for other dishes combined wuth fruits, such as apples, pears, and berries as well as more unusual fruits like persimmons and pomegranates. (Blueberry-Lemon-Sour Cream Coffee Cake)
Even as I am writing this down, I fear I made a mistake returning it, because it all sounds so enticing. But all I have to do is remember the book, that didn't seduce me in whatever way. Mind you, I'm an addict! I only need a few fantastic combinations that I had not thought of; just a sense of smell and taste from the pages; the feeling that the writer brings me some knowledge on ingredients or just teaches me some comforting dishes, and I'm sold. I own far too many books on cooking to still be able to be called cautious, or hard to get for food writers.
And believe me, I put up a fight to like my new fix. But as I tried to surpass my dismay to find the pages of the book of a glossy, magazinelike quality, badly laid out, with harsh, matter of factlike colours, I hoped to find the magic I thought I'd read in the American reviews in the contents. But this purchase only reminded me that the standard for British cookbooks is very high, and the design and layout of a book are among its selling points. The recipes were allright, I suppose; if you don't own any previous cookbooks, that is. Some original ingredients, some surprising combinations, but a lot that you can find in books that are more enticing than this one.