Top positive review
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Realistic, clear information, beautiful photography and a jolly good read
on 5 October 2010
I found my nine year-old at the breakfast table this morning reading 'A Taste of the Unexpected'. Bearing in mind she is a great consumer of beautiful photography, I wasn't surprised, until I then watched her get, go to the back door, have a think, and then ask where in our tiny and as yet bare garden we could plant our very own pecan tree.
This is what this book does. It gets you. It explains how to make the most of a small space, or what do to do with a larger area, all without the slightest hint of patronising or assuming that we know when a medlar is ready to pick - I hadn't a clue. It's a book for grown-ups, but I saw this morning that if you write it right, you can hook the children too.
Mark Diacono's great idea is that perhaps we should give over to something more interesting those pots in which we'd half-heartedly grown carrots last year, only to see them for sale at 2p/lb down the road. Instead of carrots, grow sweet cecily: but first of all read all about it: fabulous facts and with a healthy dose of humour thrown in. I'm easily bored by the fare, both edible and literary, of self-conscious 'lifestyle cookery' writers, but it is evident from the first page of this book that Mark Diacono really really does, in real life, the things he says he does in his writing. He researches the plant, he shares his own experiments in growing, he suggests varities that will work for us in our small plot, frost pocket or raised bed, and he provides us with a sensible recipe or two with each fruit, vegetable, nut, herb, spice and flower. 'Make your garden unbuyable', he says. 'Food is at its finest when it slows down a little, when we give it a chance to be enjoyed for the journey as much as the result'
I stood with my daughter this morning and showed her where we could plant the quince. She referred to the helpful 'making a wishlist' and 'planning your space' sections: I referred her to the 'turning your wishlist into reality' section. We were incredibly late for school, but I felt the lesson we'd both shared in that time was going to spark something that will stay with us for a long, long time.