on 18 January 2011
This is a very interesting book indeed.
Of course, I know that it's possible to grow fruit and vege in my own garden. But the utter convenience that the supermarket provides is hard to resist.
The Good Life is not regular viewing in my house. River Cottage is, however. Every spring I tell myself I'm going to plant potatoes, or put up the canes for the runner beans, or trim back the redcurrant bush. But alas, every year I don't bother. Such a waste really.
Enter "Mark Diacono: A Taste Of The Unexpected". Contained within it's pages are ideas and suggestions on how to grow and cook with some very strange vegetables, nuts, herbs, spices and flowers. Things that many people will not have come across before. Which is precisely the point of this book. The supermarket stocks all the usual fruits and vege, so why grow them at home? It's so labour intensive and results aren't guaranteed. So, read this book and take a step into the realm of the unexpected.
The book is printed on large glossy pages, the photographs are very attractive indeed, and the text is clear and easy to read.
Each ingredient, whether it be flower, nut or vegetable, is presented first in the form of a large colour photo showing it in it's raw 'on the vine' state. Then follows a few paragraphs of explanations regarding the plant's orgins, it's uses, it's history, etc.. Then there follows a short explanation of the different varieties, then a paragraph on growing tips. Finally you are treated to a recipie that utilizes the ingredient and another colour photo showing the finished dish.
There are 7 categories of plants, and approx 5 individual ingredients within each category. So, if you have the time and the patience, you can have 35 strange and little-known edible plants and herbs growing in your garden.
Some of these unusual plants and herbs include..
Medlars, Mulberries, Quinces, Pecans, Autumn Olives, Blue Honeysuckle, Chilean Guava, Lovage, Sweet Cicely, Cardoons, Mizuna, Oca, Yacon, ....and many more besides.
On the down-side though, the growing tips are rather sparce to say the least, but you have to keep in mind that this is not a dedicated gardening book. It's more of a beginners guide to unusual ingredients. It explains the basics very well, and whets your appetite for unusual cooking.
Speaking from my own experience, this book has inspired me to actually grow something in my garden this year. I've already bought some Sorrel and Salsify seeds as these are apparantly easy to grow, and I've made a space for some potatoes.. How things turn out remains to be seen however. Lol.
In my opinion this is a very nice coffee table book. It contains a lot of recipies, and there is a wealth of information contained within it's pages. It's not a book you'll read from cover to cover, but rather it's a sort of cookery inspiration reference book.
An ideal gift for anyone who has an interest in gardening or cookery. Expertly written and beautifully illustrated. Recommended.