Living in California for eight years helped me hone my cooking chops. We knew many couples that loved to cook and were often invited over for a potluck or a meal with items cooked from their garden. These meals often introduced my limited palate to delicious items I was unfamiliar with. Having been a picky child from the midwest with unadventurous tastebuds, most things were new to me.
While at one of these tasty soirees I came across a book on our host’s bookshelf entitled, The Visual Food Encyclopedia: The Definitive Practical Guide To Food And Cooking. As I thumbed through the book, I knew I had an item that had to be put on my wish list. Patience not being one of my better traits, I made a trip to Barnes and Noble and began exploring the book in more detail the next day. I found a wealth of information on just about any food item I could think of and many that I had never even heard of.
The encyclopedia is broken into 20 sections covering your basics of fruits, vegetables, legumes, meat, poultry, etc., but also exploring seaweed, crustaceans, mollusks, herbs and spices, and milk products to name a few. Each section is further broken down into categories. For instance the vegetable segment is broken down into the following types: bulb, root, fruit, leaf, stalk, tuber, inflorescent. Once you have found the item you are looking for, the encyclopedia guides you through the food’s history, how to buy/prepare/serve/store, nutritional information, and sometimes a recipe. Each food item is accompanied by a detailed drawing for ease of identification in the grocery store and some items even have photographs showing you how to prepare the item.
I love this book! Not only is it comprehensive, after nearly twelve years I have yet to stump it. So if you are curious about crosne, searching for salsifi, or need to know how to properly store a tomato, this is the book for you.