The Complete Language of Food: A Definitive & Illustrated History

Wellfleet. Nov. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781577152590. $24.99. REF
Artist Dietz’s (The Complete Language of Flowers; The Complete Language of Herbs) unusual encyclopedia of food ingredients takes a serious approach to information that can have fun applications. Each entry provides the plant’s scientific name, a full-color illustration, a paragraph on folklore and facts, and, most significantly, “Symbolic Meanings” and “Possible Powers.” Keen cooks, patrons interested in flower meanings or giving meaningful gifts, and the just plain curious will enjoy learning new facts about familiar plants—that Asparagus officinalis, or asparagus, promotes lucid dreaming, for example—and discovering foods that may be new to them, such as the Kaempferia galangal, or resurrection lily, which can break a hex. The “Folklore and Facts” portions of the entries provide engaging historical details and tidbits about how the plants are prepared for eating, which cultures enjoy them, and other relevant details, such as when the plant was first noted in literature. Entries are presented according to their Latin name (as common names for the same plant vary), but the index of common food names will carry users over this possible hurdle.
VERDICT This can work as a beautifully illustrated browse, but it will also serve well as a reference for reports and foodie patrons.
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