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fruit

The Man Who Brought Cherry Blossoms to D.C., and Other Fun Facts

in Non-Fiction by

Each spring, thousands of tourists travel to our nation’s capital to see the Tidal Basin swathed in clouds of cherry blossom pink. Peak bloom this year is predicted to be March 17-20 but festivities will continue for the following four weeks. The first flowering cherry trees were planted more than 100 years ago when a Department of Agriculture employee ordered 125 of them from a Japanese plant nursery, because his new wife liked them. This man, David Fairchild was a shy country boy from Kansas, but he became one of the most adventuresome botanists of all time. His story is told in The Food Explorer (Dutton, 2018), a new book by Daniel Stone that reads like a travelogue, a novel,…

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‘Never Out of Season’ Touches on a Science We Never Knew Existed, That of the Banana

in Non-Fiction by

The opening chapter of “Never Out of Season,” exposes the book premise flat out. It deals with the short history of the banana. This rather prosaic fruit, available in abundance, at least in New York, from every street vendors on most street corners, is not the result of simple happenstance or sustained popular delight. Its ubiquitous presence is both the product of refined methods of distribution and the result of a long selective agricultural process, an outcome we have grown to rely and take for granted. This hegemony of productivity is what Dunn, through this masterfully well-documented book replete with singular stories reading like detective stories, underlines with conviction to sound the alarm. Indeed, even if you do not buy…

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Kitchen Bursting with Produce? Time for Home Canning!

in Potpourri by

Are your counters like mine—overflowing with the last of the tomatoes, squash from your in-laws and those plum and apple “seconds” that were too good a deal to pass up at the farmer’s market? As you survey your bounty one question keeps going through your mind, “How the heck are we going to eat all this before it spoils?” Never fear! Canning books are here. We’re not the first humans to want to preserve the sun-drenched lusciousness of summer for the colder months. Fortunately, preserving has been honed to a science and raised to a fine art. In my family we used to do old-fashioned kettle canning every August. It was a hot, sweaty affair but the sheer pleasure of…

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