FRESH FROM THE FARMER’S MARKET

I love the synchronicity of things. It was when I first began collecting Farmer’s Market cookbooks and writing about them that I discovered one I hadn’t known about.
This is FRESH FROM THE FARMER’S MARKET by Janet Fletcher. (Let me tell you; the cover of this cookbook is totally captivating).

Ms. Fletcher’s book, published in 1997 and re-published in 2008, comes to us from Chronicle Books in San Francisco (one of those names you come to recognize as hallmarks in cookbooks).

The publishers at Chronicle Books tell us “Across the country, consumers are rediscovering the old fashioned pleasures buying direct from the growers. (and as I write this, years after this book was published, I’m sure you will agree; this is as true today as it was in the 1990s.
Here in the Antelope Valley, market day is on Lancaster Boulevard on Thursday afternoons).

The publishers write, “They’re also discovering the wonderful variety of fruits and vegetables available fresh from season to season…FRESH FROM THE FARMER’S MARKET, by Janet Fletcher, offers cooks a seasonal produce guide plus eighty fabulous recipes…”

Mary Ann Gilberbloom, a publicist at Chronicle Books, says that, on a personal note. since she started working on this book, she began taking her daughter to local farmers’ markets. She says it has changed her very picky ten year old’s view of fruits and vegetables.

Explain Chronicle books, in their press release, in FRESH FROM THE FARMER’S MARKET, Fletcher celebrates America’s incomparable harvest with recipes and photographs that showcase the riches of each season. Her compelling text conveys the pleasures of shopping the farmers’ market and highlights the benefit of buying direct from the growers access to fully ripe, fresh-picked produce; the chance to buy unusual varieties, many that supermarkets never carry; and the availability of more organically grown produce….the text includes the voices of dozens of farmers describing the special attributes of the produce they bring to market, explain why it’s so often superior to the wares at the local grocery store. Then, in eighty tantalizing recipes, Fletcher puts these fruits and vegetables center stage, motivating readers to make the most of their purchases….”

“Noted photographer Victoria Pearson,” Chronicle Books proclaims, “captures the year round beauty of the farmers’ market in fifty stunning natural light photographs/…”

(Trust me, they do not lie. As someone who has studied photography and spent years trying to capture the perfect photograph, I am in awe of Ms. Pearson’s work). Victoria Pearson is a Los Angeles based photographer whose work has appeared in ”A BREAD FOR ALL SEASONS,” as well as MARTHA STEWART LIVING, CONDE NAST TRAVELER and TOWN AND COUNTRY magazines.

And if someone out there is saying “so?, I simply want to say, it isn’t often that photographs of a recipe that ensnares you and piques your interest, so that you say “I can do that!” (whether you realize it or not, a gorgeous color photograph of a recipe for, say, a collage of fruits as shown on pages 114 of Ms. Fletcher’s book—is often the impetus that motivates us into rushing out to buy the necessary ingredients to make a yummy-sounding recipes).

Even the cover of this great cookbook is a collage of fruits, veggies and the farmers’ market.

Janet Fletcher trained at the Culinary Institute of America (a name most of us are familiar with) and the Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California, and at the time of publication, (1997) was a staff food writer for the San Francisco, Chronicle, and she also contributes frequently to magazines on wine and food topics. She has authored or co-authored eight cookbooks, including MORE VEGETABLES, PLEASE, GRAIN GASTRONOMY and PASTA HARVEST. Ms. Fletcher lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, who is a Napa Valley winemaker.

“Season by season” proclaim Chronicle Books, “Fresh from the Farmer’s Market guides readers to fruits and vegetables at peak freshness and explains how to recognize quality. Did you know that a fresh strawberry is a shiny berry? Or that a squeezed artichoke squeaks when fresh? (go ahead! Squeeze the artichokes! Or that a fresh green bean will stick to your clothes? (and no, I didn’t know that!)

“Regular farmers’ market shoppers,” say Chronicle Books, “will find fresh inspiration in recipes such as Festive Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets and Feta, Tapioca Pudding with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce and Quesadillas with Squash Blossoms and Corn…”

For my money, not much can compare with the Blackberry Macaroon Tarts, the Pasta with Eggplant, Tomato, Olives and Capers, or the fresh fig galettes (these were a must when our fig trees were in season, back in the day).

Along with the great recipes and mouth-watering photographs, you will surely enjoy Ms. Fletcher’s chatty style when she shares with you the background to her recipes, The farmer’s markets and her experiences. It’s like spending an afternoon with a good friend over for coffee and….fig galettes.

FRESH FROM THE FARMERS’ MARKET is available at Amazon.com starting at one cent for a pre-owned copy or for $4.49 new.

If this review generates enough interest, I can review more farmer’s market cook books—while checking the prices on Amazon.com I found more farmer’s market cookbooks than I knew existed. And then there are all the farmers’ market cookbooks on my own bookshelves

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

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