cover image Herbarium


Caz Hildebrand. Thames & Hudson, $29.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-500-51893-9

The modern world is “missing out on herbs”—the simple premise and sweeping challenge of this helpful new book. The pace of life and so-called advancement of medicine and food processing has robbed humans of “plant time”—a notion Hildebrand (The Geometry of Pasta) borrows from 20th-century herbalist Geoffrey Grigson in laying out the mandate of the book. There was a time when herbs were “supremely important” in day-to-day life, were held in great respect and, in some cases, even thought to possess spirits. Hildebrand aims to reclaim these traditions by profiling 100 herbs. Each entry offers not only basic information, including its use in folklore and literature, but also sidebar snippets with specific guidance that includes how to grow; how to eat with it; how to try the herb, and ways the herb can be used to heal. The daisy, for example, can be eaten with a salad; one can try deep-frying it in tempura batter; it heals when its leaves are chewed to soothe mouth ulcers. The point of the book is that the earth is filled with these horticultural gifts, which are plentiful, useful, beneficial, beautiful, and, most importantly, right there in front of you. Color illus. (Oct.)