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OP: Fruit: A Connoisseur's Guide

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by Alan Davidson

Simon and Schuster, 1991. Hardcover. Near Fine in Very Good jacket. First printing.

Alan Davidson (1924–2003) was a leading and important figure in the field of food history and publishing. His inexhaustible curiosity about the natural world led him down a variety of avenues, which is a boon to those of us similarly intrigued by the realm of food. His impressive books on seafood are the most well-known, but he also wrote collections of essays, edited a monograph on home kitchen design and function, and produced a handsome and resourceful book on fruits of the world, which we offer here.

Though organized by botanical family, this splendid book is hardly a scientific treatise. Rather, its appeal lies in Davidson’s thoughtful and eclectic descriptions accompanied by Charlotte Knox’s stunning full-page color illustrations. 

Davidson’s descriptions of each fruit vary widely in their content. He might mention the fruit’s depiction and use in art, history and geography of cultivation, flavor profile and common culinary uses, varietal and botanical properties, etymology, role in mythology and folklore, or any number of other facts and details. 

For added enjoyment and utility, enticing recipes are included. We find particularly compelling:

  • soursop mousse—with the option of omitting gelatin for a foamier variation
  • rødgrøt—a Danish porridge with cream of wheat thickened with the strained juices of cooked currants and raspberries
  • persimmon pudding studded with toasted walnuts
  • elderflower and gooseberry fool

All dishes to enjoy while discussing the War of the Roses’ impact on melon cultivation in England or the pomegranate’s role in the creation of winter, according to Greek mythology. Our first printing copy, save for some water damage to the lower edge of the jacket, is in Near Fine condition. Not a definitive text on fruit but certainly an engaging one.

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