The New Oxford Book of Food Plants

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9780198548256: The New Oxford Book of Food Plants

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.

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Review:

Not enough tables of contents are enhanced by drawings of nuts, herbs, and root vegetables, but the table of contents in The New Oxford Book of Food Plants is, setting the tone for a book that clearly delights in the glories of the world's bounty. Each chapter, including grain crops and fruits, spices and seaweed, legumes and mushrooms among its 19 topics, is a cornucopia of information and beautiful, educational illustrations. Take the chapter on oil crops, for example. Covering olives, sesame, peanuts, soy beans, sunflowers, and the rape plant, the prose describes where they grow and what the fruits look like, what kind of oil is produced and what it's used for, how it's made and how else the fruits may be used. Color drawings of the plants and their fruits are on the facing page. Put together by writers who respect each plant and give them the attention and detail that spell quality, this is a beautiful book and a charming resource. --Stephanie Gold

About the Author:


About the Authors:
John Vaughan is Emeritus Professor of Food Sciences at King's College, London. Catherine Geissler is Professor of Nutrition at King's College London.

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