Ripe for reading, ripe for eating…and a giveaway!
If you’re reading this blog because you either love fruits and vegetables or wish you wanted to, then it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Ripe: A fresh, colorful approach to fruits and vegetables. Whether you’re in the first or second camp, it will broaden your horizons – this is a compendium that you’ll want to read and stare longingly at over a cup of tea, but it is also useful enough to avoid gathering dust on the coffee table. I’ll be honest, I fell in love with this book before reading it, but you’ll be glad to know that upon requesting and kindly receiving a copy to review, my expectations were exceeded.
Ripe is everything I believe in – an enticement to appreciate fruits and vegetables, rather than a prescription. It’s even more than that though – it is the best combination of bedtime reading, recipes, food porn and cooking guidance I’ve come across. It’s the sort of book you can pick up an read for both entertainment and entertaining, for a few minutes or for a whole afternoon. Few books have made me nod like a puppy, drool, giggle – all while miraculously learning about how I could overcome my distrust of brussel sprouts. Each fruit/vegetable is gorgeously photographed, and has a story, a tip, three simple uses, and a pretty recipe.
The recipes and “simple uses” are an excellent balance between real classics and are-you-for-real creativity that open your eyes to new horizons. It’s this balance, combined with the relaxed, personalised writing style that makes you feel both at ease and invigorated to reach for something different the next time you go to the market. I love the extreme casual-ness of the “simple uses” as well, and the adaptability of the recipes – they make the book practical as well as pretty.
My only criticism (if you can even call it that) would be that I’d like to see an extended version – maybe a book for each colour even. It’s not every day you stumble across a premise, writer & photographer combination this fantastic. If it were me, I’d add a few universal grower’s notes too where possible, for the renewed interest in gardening that is sweeping the foodiesphere. I would also prefer the buying tips and flavour profiles to be included more consistently (perhaps as a dedicated section), which would give readers an even more powerful knowledge base. There are of course books that already do this, but as far as I know, few have done it in a way that makes for good curl-up-on-the-couch reading, and certainly even fewer are so beautifully presented too. If I wasn’t already converted to eating more fruits and vegetables than necessary, this would be one of those life-changing books that changes the way I eat for the better (much like Artisan Bread in 5). One line really sticks out to me – “Our species thrives because we’ve learned to glorify modest foods” – this is clearly written by someone who doesn’t expect every reader to have a chef’s pantry and kitchen, yet doesn’t want to patronise you either. It’s approachable whether you have a small budget or just don’t want to blow it. Either way, it’s very refreshing.
EDIT: Thank you for all the fantastic ideas in the comments! Congratulations to Leaf, who was drawn as the winner of the book. If you’re Australia, you can get the book straight from the publisher, or if you’re in New Zealand, Fishpond stocks it with free shipping (and you can preview the book too, although if you want more sample recipes and blogger reviews, there are plenty of them!).
Here’s a little something I whipped up from the “simple uses” page on green beans, by tossing with some cherry tomatoes, olive tapenade and olive oil. Instead of blanching the beans in water, I seared them on a single layer whilst covered to bring out a little more of their sweetness and keep all their flavour in tact. Once their black on the underside, you leave them in the pan with the lid on until they’re cooked to your liking, and meanwhile you can chop the tomatoes and toss them in tapenade. A beautifully fresh, simple side.