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Thursday, 25 November 2010

A Taste of the Unexpected




Growing things to eat is fast becoming a popular past time, not necessarily out of necessity, but purely for personal satisfaction, so why bother cultivating fruit and vegetables that are cheap or readily available in the shops? Mark Diacono, head gardener at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage, prompts us to rethink our gardening habits in his book, A Taste Of The Unexpected.

I grew up believing that most plants in the garden were inedible or even poisonous, except for the very obvious things of course. Like every child, I was curious as to what that shiny berry was and my parents’ solution to protect me from dangerous ingestion, was to declare most things toxic and therefore untouchable. A sensible approach, but in hindsight, it had the effect of narrowing my view on what could be eaten.

Mark’s book has opened up a whole new world to savour. Who would have thought you could eat fuchsia berries? They were definitely on my deadly list.
The main point, is that we are encouraged to grow what we’d love to eat and to compile a wish list to get started. If we can’t buy it in the shops, it goes on the list. Does it taste better the moment it is picked? Then that goes on the list too. From the familiar to the downright strange, Mark gives us a practical and comprehensive guide to growing, harvesting and cooking.

Every page is enlightening as well as inspiring and I can see my kitchen garden quickly turning into an experimental horticultural playground. Who knows I could soon be growing mulberries, blue honeysuckle, Chilean guavas or the amusingly named Egyptian walking onion. I just can’t wait for the spring.

A Taste of the Unexpected by Mark Diacono is published by Quadrille.
Hardback RRP £20.00
Order yours now

Book kindly supplied by Quadrille Publishing

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