Windmill £8.99 (298pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop : 0870 079 8897
Forgotten Fruit, By Christopher Stocks
Friday 01 May 2009
Surveying the cornucopia in our supermarkets, we may think that this is a time of unparalleled choice for fruit and vegetables, but the Victorians would have tutted at the Spartan monotony of our diet.
They grew 42 different types of cabbage, 37 lettuces, 62 peaches, 53 peas... The contraction of cultivars came about through a combination of disease, commercial requirements and crackpot legislation. It costs £2,665 to register a single variety for two years on the EU's National List of legally certified seeds.
Christopher Stocks's splendid book offers a tempting glimpse of the wealth of delights that we are dnied in our straitened age. They include the Golden Jelly turnip ("it has sweet, tender, delicate yellow flesh, whose lack of fibre gives it an almost jelly-like consistency when boiled"), the "distinctly nutty and sweet" Blenheim Orange apple ("possibly the only apple whose taste has been described as addictive") and the Warwickshire Drooper plum. It was used to make an alcoholic refreshment called Plum Jerkum that had the effect of "leaving the head clear while paralysing the legs".
Stocks provides fascinating histories for the 26 fruits and vegetables covered here. Developed into tiny nibbles such as Scarlet Globe, Icicle and Black Spanish Round, the radish started out as a large root that the ancient Greeks utilised for rhaphanidosis (translated as "radishment"), which was an "extremely uncomfortable" punishment for adultery.
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Yorkshire man to win £10,000 off a £1 bet placed six years ago if Dan Jarvis becomes Labour Party leader
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 4 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 5 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Cassetteboy joins forces with Russell Brand for Emperor's New Clothes film
Poldark, TV review: Demelza’s insouciance is almost as impressive as Ross’ pecs
Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear: Former Stig Ben Collins says show 'will always continue' with or without suspended host
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'