Oxford University Press
Here is the most comprehensive--and most appealing--reference book available on the many edible plants we grow in our gardens, buy in our shops, and eat with great relish. A true cornucopia,The New Oxford Book of Food Plants overflows with information and is packed with beautiful, hand-painted illustrations of the world's food plants. In an oversized format with alternating full-page color plates, readers will find a feast of facts about cereals, sugar crops, oil seeds, nuts, legumes, fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, sea-weeds, mushrooms, wild food plants, and much more besides.
The book, for example, provides authoritative coverage of fruit worldwide, both the varieties you commonly find at your local food stand (apples, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, bananas), and some you might not ordinarily see (mangosteen, manzanilla, marang, tamarind, or whortleberry). Similarly, we can uncover information on vegetables from acorn squash, asparagus, and broccoli, to truffle, turnips, watercress, and zucchini; nuts from the beechnut and the betel nut to the pistachio and the walnut; and herbs from anise and arrowroot to tarragon and wintergreen. Entries typically discuss the source and history of a plant, how it is prepared for market, and how it is used as food. Thus, for the Common Bean, we learn that it is the most widely cultivated bean in the world; that it has a host of local varieties and names (including French Beans, String Beans, Snap Beans, Frijoles); that remains have been found in Mexico that date back seven thousand years; that it is used in dishes that range from France's cassoulet to Mexican chili; and we even learn that one type of cultivar, known as "nuoas," is grown only in very high altitudes in South America and that it "pops" when cooked, rather like pop corn. And the illustrations for the Common Bean show the flowers, pods, and seeds of several varieties, including the Climbing Purple-Podded Kidney Bean, the Brown Haricot, the White Haricot, and the Mexican Black Bean. And in addition to covering everything from beverage crops to tropical root crops, the editor has included a glossary of botanical terms, a section on nutrition and health, nutrition tables, a list of recommended readings, and an index.
With marvelous hand-painted illustrations and a wealth of nutritional, historical, and other information,The New Oxford Book of Food Plants belongs on the shelf of everyone who loves to garden, to cook, and to eat healthily.