After I finished typing an update to farmers’ markets part two – which could go on endlessly if I had all of the farmer’s market cookbooks listed on, – I had an internal debate with myself over some cookbooks that are not just cookbooks but a detailed list of fruits and vegetables—where do they belong? Since I can’t figure out how to categorize them, I will just bring them to your attention when one of them crosses my line of vision

Such is the case with Produce Pete’s FARMACOPEIA by Peter Napolitano, with a subtitle “From Apples to Zucchini and everything in between”, published in 1994 by Hearst Books.

I logged on to to make sure it’s available before I start rhapsodizing –and it is available —along with, to my surprise, a not very flattering review of the book. (To be fair, there is a positive review and a negative one). So, I did my own test—I began looking up unusual fruits and vegetables with which I am most familiar from having had, for 19 years, a yard with 26 fruit trees and a grape arbor. We had a dwarf kumquat tree—so I looked up kumquat. There are two recipes using kumquats and the author provides information about their season, selecting, storing and preparing. We also had an unusual loquat tree (which strange as it may seem, was a volunteer. We also had a volunteer nectarine tree that Bob mowed down for several years until he decided to let it grow and see what came up – it was a nectarine tree!) Loquat did not make it into Produce Pete’s book but nectarines did.

And Produce Pete makes up for sparse listings of fruit or vegetables with a more than adequate listing of mushrooms and melons.

For an apprentice cook or someone just getting acquainted with different fruits and vegetables, FARMACOPEIA is a good starter reference book—and the price is right. There are many copies available on starting at one cent for a pre owned book, and at $6.50 for a new copy.

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith


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