Three books to supplement your summer reading list.
Once you realize your walk to the subway winds through a wonderland of edible plants, Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat by Ellen Zachos (Storey, $16.95) will pay for itself many times over. Published on the 50th anniversary of Euell Gibbons’ famous Stalking the Wild Asparagus, this gorgeous guide—written by a Harvard-educated Manhattanite who teaches at the New York Botanical Garden—will change not only the way you eat, but your relationship to the natural world. Is it Kousa dogwood season yet?
If you can’t make it to France this summer, The French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier (Clarkson Potter, July, $22.50) will teach your Union Square spoils to speak francais. No heavy white sauces or elaborate steps here, just regional, ingredient-driven, rustic-elegant fare like pickled Swiss chard stalks, radish-top pasta, tomato-mustard tart or the fluffy pascadous spinach pancakes the author and her boyfriend, Maxence, stumbled upon while driving through the mountains of the Aveyron. Get the taste of jealousy out of your mouth with cherry-rose compote or peach clafoutis, ooh la la.
Kevin West grew up in rural Tennessee, attended Deep Spring College, was on staff at W for 13 years and is a Master Food Preserver. That bio alone made me want Saving the Season: A cook’s guide to home canning, pickling and preserving (Knopf, $35), but now that I’ve got it I’m buying a copy for everyone I know. In addition to all the basics, the 532- page collection includes the likes of wild blackberry molasses, taqueria-style carrots, pickled eggs in sriracha, ramps in vinegar (both French style and Tennessee style), DIY cornichons, quince recipes by both Nostradamus (his turns ruby red) and Pliny (with honey) and something called apricot chew that looks like Martha Stewart’s answer to Fruit Roll- Ups. Throughout, West sprinkles road trip essays, 17th-century landscape paintings and Pablo Neruda poems. There are many lovely preserving books out there, but this comprehensive compendium is a canning category killer.