100 Vegetables and Where They Came from

William Woys Weaver, Author, Signe Sundberg-Hall, Illustrator Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $18.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-56512-238-3
When is a squash more than a squash? When it is one of Weaver's selected classic heirloom vegetables. In this book, which he maintains is both ""a garden book for cooks and a cook's guide to the garden,"" Weaver relates the botanical and cultural histories of vegetables originating from every corner of the globe, from Turkmenistan to France, and from Switzerland to South Africa. He doesn't just include such exotic vegetables as orache, purple youtia, yacon, bambara and tartar bread plant; he also notes subtle differences in texture, flavor and origin of countless varieties of peppers, potatoes, beans, tomatoes and other familiar vegetables. Thus, he pronounces Arran Victory potatoes (Scotland) to be ""the ultimate potato,"" with ""color so intense they resemble candy imitations,"" whereas the Beauty of Hebron (New York) is praised for its vigor and its early maturity. He notes that Jerusalem artichokes, which were considered by the French in the 18th-century to be ""the worst vegetable,"" later found favor with the Pennsylvania Dutch. Weaver's choice of vegetables is not limited to those of interest to gardeners; they must also possess culinary merit. To stimulate curiosity in these qualities, he includes cooking recommendations with each vegetable profile. For example, he suggests that Chioggia squash, dating back to 16th-century Venice, is delicious sliced and grilled with olive oil, and that the Alma pea (Sweden) is best served with crayfish, a porter flavored with dill, and a little Chopin in the background. Readers will be pleased to see a source list for seeds of these classic vegetables, which are aptly illustrated with Signe Sundberg-Hall's detailed drawings. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/23/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-56512-686-2
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