“Over the last ten years we have seen a phenomenal increase in our range of cooking techniques, styles, and ingredients. Foods that were once available only in little ‘ethnic’ shops now compete for shelf space in nationwide supermarket chains,” writes Elizabeth Schneider in the introduction to her 1986 book, Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables. The sentiment is no less true today.
An authoritative and encyclopedic writer on comestible plants, Schneider here addresses produce that historically has not been commonly known outside of particular regions and climates. In the last 35 years arugula, delicata squash, and tomatillos may have wiggled their way into the mainstream, but some still have yet to have their day in the spotlight: breadfruit, cherimoya, longan. We can’t forget that even the avocado was once peculiar enough to require a parenthetical explanation in American cookbooks.
As these fruit and vegetable names become more familiar to our ears and eyes, their use in the kitchen or proper selection in the market might still require some knowledgeable guidance. Schneider has us covered and offers descriptions of nearly 100 ingredients, accompanied by black and white line illustrations, as well as recipes for each. The curious cook can confidently explore new territory with chicken stewed with mushrooms and burdock, roasted pork served with a green gooseberry pan sauce, or cold poached salmon with creamed sorrel.
Our copy is a Near Fine first printing with a lightly shelfworn jacket, bearing a one-inch closed tear to the bottom, rear edge. Relevant and useful, regardless of how common the produce becomes.