Thursday, 26 May 2011

Devon Book Review: A Taste of the Unexpected by Mark Diacono

Just a quick post to express how much pleasure I got from reading this wonderful book.  The experts on Gardener's Question Time on Radio 4 a few weeks ago were quick to dismiss people's desire to grow 'weird' vegetables - apparently white carrots are tasteless and some of the more extravagantly coloured vegetables often fail to thrive and are generally a waste of time.  So that's that, I thought, don't bother with all that fancy schmancy stuff in my veg patch.  Then...along comes this book by Mark Diacono.  He's one of Hugh's River Cottage experts, runs courses there and grows at Otter Farm near Honiton.

I unreservedly love this book because:

a) there aren't any pictures of the author posing artfully either with cleverly positioned 'mud' on knees or flour on cheek, or smiling winsomely at his prize veg with shabby chic decor in the background and old enamel mug

b) he actually took all the photos of the gardens and veg inside the book (repect!)

c) it also has recipes - some of which are a bit fancy, but some plain and easy

d) he really inspired me to experiment - hell, why not grow apricots, goji berries, szechuan pepper in our back gardens / window boxes

e) only one cute picture of child in a garden (I am really naffed off with cookery / lifestyle writers getting their kids involved in photoshoots)

f) loved his ethos of 'grow expensive/ unbuyable produce' rather than onions, potatoes, carrots type stuff

So, let's grow and eat day lilies - this was a fab bit of advice as I was sat outside next to my sprouting day lilies while I was reading this bit.  I reached over, snapped off a flower bud and it did indeed taste a bit like a French bean but with a slight chilli kick.  How naughty and lovely.  Eating flowers. Nasturtiums are budding so I shall be sprinkling them on my salads, deep frying  day lilies and planning how to fit an apricot into our full-the-brim garden.  And definitely some Egyptian Walking Onions (what a name!).  And possibly some Japanese wineberries just so I can make the delicious sounding Japanese Wineberry Trifle.

He's also got a really good blog.  I have a new foodie hero and, what's more, he's a Devon lad!

And this is our vege patch at the moment- not a gojiberry in sight.

And I had to include a picture of our Angelica (yes that green twiggy crystalline stuff that no-one has put on a cupcake even ironically since the 70s) which has turned into a beanstalk - it was 6ft tall until it keeled over in the wind.


Choclette said...

He's the only name I seem to be hearing at the moment - virtually every time I turn the radio on.

If you wait for the day lillies to flower before eating - then you get the benefit of the flower during the day and get to eat it in the evening. Very good in salads - tastes similar to lettuce.

Did you get given his book to review?

Grazing Kate said...

Yes, I think he was on Radio 4 today (You and Yours). And yes, the book was sent to me as a freebie but I was so pleasantly surprised that I had to write about it straight away. We have two enormous clumps of daylilies and we almost fried them in tempura last year, but used the courgette flowers instead - this year we shall feast on flowers!

Christine Kaltoft said...

Well I rather like those artful images Kate: I find myself having bought a couple of recipe books (at least) with gorgeous pictures and then find that I actually don't end up making anything from them! So I guess I maybe like them too much?!

Anyway, this book sounds great. We've recently got a pot of day lilies so I look forward to munching on them. Just hope no-one tells the hens they taste good! So far they seem to have missed my nasturtium seedlings...

And I recently identified a plant in our hedge as a goji berry bush! Mind you I don't think we'll get many berries from it as the hens are definitely into it, despite the thorns.

Will check it out though: thanks!

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