paper, 148 p., $15.95
The Great Potato Book, by New York Times food writer Florence Fabricant, will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about potatoes — except how to grow your own. The book traces the history of the potato from the mountains of Peru through its arrival in Europe as an ornamental plant thought to be poisonous. Eventually, the potato was accepted as a cheap, easy-to-grow source of food for the poor. Now, it is regarded as a staple, even a gourmet food. The botanically unrelated but gastronomically similar sweet potato is also discussed in this book.
After describing many cultivars of potato beyond those commonly available in supermarkets, Ms. Fabricant provides recipes for each variety — from how to make perfect French fries to how to prepare purple potato salad and curried cucumber-potato soup. The book also suggests mail-order sources for uncommon potato varieties. In this area, the Evanston Farmers Market offers many unusual potato varieties. For fans of the potato, this is a great book.
— Joyce Weinberg, Volunteer, Plant Information Office, Chicago Botanic Garden