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Bored with broccoli? Overdosed on oranges? Go exotic! More than ever, people are eating healthily--and that means fresh fruits and vegetables. Widen your food repertoire with 70 unusual kinds of produce from around the world, plus recipes for preparing these delicacies. Almost as delicious to look at as they are to taste, the colorful sensations include lychees: underneath the pinkish skin lies a "pearl"--a juicy, aromatic fruit the Chinese consider a symbol of romance. Or, turn the physalis, also called the Peruvian cherry, into flavorsome jams, compotes, or sauces. Make that bland dish sing with elephant garlic, hot chili peppers, and Chinese chives. There are tips on selection, sampling, storing, cooking, and serving, plus descriptions of taste and appearance. So, eat up!
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The ubiquity of rapid air transport means that exotic fruits and vegetables from all over the world arrive daily in the nation's supermarkets. Some fruits essentially unknown a few years ago have become commonplace--the kiwi being the most obvious example. Oona van den Berg introduces readers to a vibrantly colored world of new foods in The Exotic Fruit and Vegetable Handbook. Informed readers may argue that some items she catalogs--such as okra, pomegranates, and figs--aren't all that unusual, and watermelon is something any American shopper will recognize, but mangosteen, durian, and dozens more of their ilk are scarcely known by anyone save recent immigrants. Vivid photographs and helpful text elucidate such items as palm fruit, babacos, quince, and dragon fruit. An appendix of recipes offers ways to use these comestibles beyond their raw state. A savory dish of Congo potatoes with pancetta and coriander accents the potatoes' deep purple color. A useful reference guide, the book answers many questions about these seldom-seen edibles. Mark Knoblauch
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