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Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, The Cyclades and Apulia Paperback – December 31, 2004


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Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, The Cyclades and Apulia + A Book of Mediterranean Food (New York Review Books Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 375 pages
  • Publisher: Prospect Books (December 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190301820X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903018200
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Simply put, Honey from a Weed is a jewel of a book. Reading it, one realizes the true artistry of the author, a person whose relationship with the world around her is both intimate and immediate--someone who can transform the fruits of the earth--beans, potatoes, garlic, herbs--into a gustatory masterpiece. The subtitle of Gray's book is Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia, but there's far more feast than famine in this culinary odyssey. Recipes for such Mediterranean favorites as rabbit with garlic sauce or polenta punctuate wonderful reflections on such varied topics as wine, pigs, and edible weeds; chapters on feasts and festivals; and sharp-eyed observations about the lives of those Gray has lived among for so many years.

Literate and lyrical, Honey from a Weed is a feast for both body and soul. Read Gray's wonderful portraits of the places she's lived and the cooks she's learned from, and let your mind wander over the sunbathed hills, through the rustic villages and deep quarries Gray knows so intimately. Though reading Honey from a Weed may not influence you to take up stone-carving or cooking, at least you'll have spent your time in charming company. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This singular volume is a pastiche of personalities, customs, landscapes, mythology, recipes and history drawn from veteran food writer Gray's 20 years in the Mediterranean. In prose that demands a leisurely reading ("Pungent the mint trodden underfoot on the way to the orchard"), she discusses societies in which food is "grown for its own sake, not for profit." The recipes are a varied lot. "Widowed" potatoes (with tomatoes, grilled almonds, pine kernels and onion), spinach with raisins and pine kernels, and fried chicken in walnut sauce invite a visit to the stove. But date-shell soup, tomato concentrate and a recipe for fox are unlikely to be reproduced in the kitchen. A section entitled "Some Products of the Pig" yields such diverse entries as a discussion of how pigs are used on the island of Naxos, an incident from the Odyssey and a recipe for pigs' tongues with pomegranate sauce. A chapter on anarchism whimsically diverges from the main food-centered themes. Simple pen-and-ink sketches offer decorative views of foods and settings.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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I read this book 20 years ago, as a budding chef.
Joe A. Lee
I used to have it in paperback. well worn and well used. unfortunately I lent it to someone and can't remember who.
Carolyne Havre
I have read it several times, each time finding new treasure.
Amy Nicolai

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
I first read Ms. Gray's book looking for a specific recipe, how was I to know it was not just a 'cookbook', but a charming look at life? Ms. Gray's stories about life among the stonecutters, peasants and artists of Greece and Italy was a delight to read. I'm buying extra copies to pass them around to cooks and non-cooks alike, anyone who needs to see firsthand that living well, often on a shoestring, can be the best revenge. Wonderful illustrations, simple recipes for soul-satisfying food...and one woman's recipe for a simpler life.
If this doesn't make you long to quit the 'day job' and run off to live on grilled sardines and fresh tomatoes in Tuscany or Naxos, call Tech Support, you've got some wires disconnected.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir on December 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book, a true and rare treasure, full of hunger and appetite, joy and toil. Books like this are sometimes called "a labor of love", which is somewhat of a cliche, but this book is brimfull of all the labor and love that goes into gathering, harvesting, preserving and cooking food grown for its own sake. Here, food is not a commodity to be bought and sold but a mainstay of life, a vital ingredient for happiness, a celebration of simple and good - but hard - life. The book would be valuable enough if that was all but there are also so many delightful recipes, so many wonderful anecdotes and descriptions, so much interesting autobiographical material. I've seen someone compare Honey from a Weed to Frances Mayers tedious Tuscanny books but don't let that mislead you; this is a very different book, written with immense sensitivity and hard-earned knowledge of the land the author has cultivated and the people she lived with and learned from.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on December 30, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`Honey from a Weed' by Patience Gray, by my very informal survey of approximately 400 cookbooks over the last year is probably the single most cited culinary book after Harold McGee's `On Food and Cooking' and Julia Child's `Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And, I have been trying to place this most distinctive work in the world of culinary writing for about the same time. I think I am finally able to identify its niche in a way that will assist potential readers to know what it is they can look forward to.

It is no whim to the publishers, Lyons & Burford, tagging the work as `Cooking/Literature'. The quality of the writing is easily on a par with the greatest food writers in English and this talent is directed to producing an almost unique genre that can be approximated by combining at least three common genres of culinary writing. First, take 40% from culinary diarists such as Amanda Hesser's `The Cook and the Gardener' and Elizabeth Romer's `The Tuscan Year'. Then, leaven with John Thorne's brand of culinary reporting and bake in the oven of Elizabeth David's culinary sophistication and cosmopolitan outlook.

Like Hesser in `The Cook and the Gardener', Ms. Gray is `embedded' within the milieu's on which she reports. But like Hesser of `Cooking for Mr. Latte', Ms. Gray is also participating in these cultures of Tuscany (Beantown central), Catalonia (Spain on the Mediterranean coast just south of France), the Cyclades (Greek islands in the Aegean), and Apulia (the heel of Italy). She is living and working in these worlds in a way very uncommon for a typical journalist or scholar.

The events driving the book's backstory are the travels of Ms.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Wise on August 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Honey From a Weed provides a feel for a life of love and a lust for life. Here we have the essence of the Slow Food Movement, healthy heart, and devotional spiritual life -- love the Earth and be loved by the Earth.

I once asked the great Portland Chef Greg Higgins to identify his favorite cook book . He said he buys Honey from a Weed for his friends so they can forage together in the fields and steams of the Northwest.

This is as good as it gets.

1. Stunning writing as good a food literature ever becomes.
2. Fresh and found ingredients as all food is local and right outside the door - between the rows of corn and the among the vineyard weeds.
3. Slow and steady and simple. This puts a spear right through the heart of the royal and the pompous food world.
4. Peasant food is the food that 90 percent of the world eats and holds up to God at sunrise.
5. Simple tools. Forget the newest and fanciest electronic gadget and go to the thrift store if you want to be a great cook.
6. One or two dish meals. What is better than crusty bread, tomatoes, olives, garlic, local cheese, basil and red wine? Do we really want or need more?
7. Family food for one or two or three or friends or village.
8. What recipes? See, gather, prepare, cook, eat, devote.
9. Spiritual life in the garden and in the field. The hills glow with the peasant energy of Jean Giono.

I read this book every year. It is nourishing in every dimension -- the body, the brain, and the spirit.

Get it and live a better life.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Peter A. Gail on September 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Traditional cultural habits of eating, involving foraging for foods growing wild in the area, have always fascinated me, but I have found that most books talk about the foods harvested in general terms, and give little of substance to work with. Patience Gray opens the door to the world of wild food foraging, describing and discussing in great detail the species used, with the local names for each, when they are used, and how they are collected for everything from spring salads to autumn seafood, and how wild and cultivated foods are integrated with one another into the day to day cuisine. The best book on European cooking I have ever read. It is so good it has become one of my favorite gifts to give to f riends.
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