[NAFEX] new coffee table book on fruit

Brungardt, Sam Sam.Brungardt at state.mn.us
Tue Aug 3 09:59:44 EDT 2004


I haven't seen this book yet, but I thought you all would like to know
about it. -- Sam Brungardt, St. Paul, Minn. (USDA Zone 4b)

A rather elegant tome on fruit 
By PATRICK BUTTERS
August 2, 2004 
"Fruit: An Illustrated History," by Peter Blackburne-Maze (Firefly
Books, $60) 
There's a specific title for you: "Fruit: An Illustrated History."  What
do you think the book is about? 
It may not seem like much, only 336 pages, but it's a monster of a book,
like 2 feet by 2 feet.  It's really rather elegant, actually.  The color
illustrations have that reserved Audubon feel, quaint but not too
splashy. 
Author Blackburne-Maze selected the illustrations from the Lindley
Library of the Royal Historical Society. (You could tell because the
foreword refers to them as "colour."  It's all rather British.) 
Chapters are divided into types of fruit: "pome," "stone," "berry" and
"exotic."  Blackburne-Maze, "a total fruit enthusiast," says preface
author Brian F. Self, indeed delivers on enthusiasm for fruit without
inundating us with his obsession with kumquats. 
The author starts off by addressing the obvious.  What is a fruit and
when would we know it?  A fruit, he says, is a "more or less fleshy pod,
capsule or some other body produced by a plant in which it forms and
carries its seeds."  So, yes, the tomato and even the lovely cucumber
are considered fruits.  But not in this book.  However, you will see the
avocado, olive, cashew, walnut and almond in this book. 
The guy tells some interesting stories and doesn't mind calling up
obvious pop-culture references just to make it interesting. And he's
kind of a wisenheimer, like in this reference to breadfruit: 
"The breadfruit's main claim to fame is that it was one of the causes of
the 'Mutiny on the Bounty.'  The plants that were using the crew's
drinking water were on their way from the Pacific to the West Indies
when they were thrown over the side along with Captain Bligh (though he
had the comparative luxury of a rowing boat)." 
Of course, if he mentioned Moe conking Larry in the section about the
coconut, that would probably be pushing things a little too far. 
(E-mail Patrick Butters (at)shns.com or visit www.shns.com.)


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