VEGETABLES: An Illustrated History with Recipes by Elizabeth Burton Brown

VEGETABLES: An Illustrated History with Recipes

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From the author of Grains (1977), a potpourri of world vegetable recipes, historically and geographically arranged, complete with period-by-period background notes on food and civilization. The faults are foreshadowed on the first page: first, an unfortunate word choice combines with an unlikely scenario, as a prehistoric community gathers around the campfire ""to celebrate the prowess of the head hunter, who had brought back to camp ten large deer."" Brown then slides from a questionable statement--that ""In fact, primitive people occasionally used their neighbors"" for food--through some generalizations about prehistoric bounty to an awkward, subordinate-clause explanation of the role of chlorophyll, dragged in as if by-the-way. The recipes draw from all continents and use vegetables known from all human periods; but processed ingredients turn up in all sections, and many vegetables are represented only in combination with modern fast-food flavors. (As a start, the primitive campfire scene introduces a celariac recipe, the only one in the book, which calls for mayonnaise, catsup, and Worcestershire sauce. . . plus, incidentally, hard-boiled eggs.) Brown uses canned shrimp for Creole gumbo and canned ferried beans for Mexican tostadas; her succotash mixes frozen corn and lima beans with ground beef; and the only broccoli recipe (associated here with the Middle Ages) calls for canned tuna and chicken broth. In short, both the food and the background notes yield a tourist-class experience.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Prentice-Hall