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Melissa's Great Book of Produce

by: Cathy Thomas

Hobaken NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2006, $29.95, Hardbound
ISBN: 0-7645-7187-9

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2006 Issue: 13(4) page(s): 28

Written by an award-winning food editor, this book speaks about specialty fruits and vegetables distributed by Melissa's World Variety Produce, Inc. Founded by Sharon and Joe Hernandez, and named after their daughter Melissa, this well known restaurant industry company sells more than a thousand items, most marketed as exotic, many branded by a carrot at their top. The book has lovely color photographs of more than a hundred produce items taken by Nick Koon.

Subtitled: Everything you need to know about fresh fruits and vegetables, the book mentions five hundred varieties of the forty-five fruits and sixty-nine vegetables and does discuss them in some detail. Glossary and Prep Help sections identify a dozen of them. The Availability Guide, some with botanical names and varieties; show the month they are available and if they are domestic or global. The book ends with a nine-page two-column index.

Each main food item has some general information, a few sentences in sections titled: Buying and Storing, Prep, Nutritional Info, Use, Serving Suggestions, and a recipe using the food item; all condensed on but three or four pages. It is refreshing to see and learn about the looks and tastes of each food, how to cut, store, and serve each one, and more. For the average person, the book is a good general reference. Other cookbooks are better sources for Chinese recipes and why none are included here.

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