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Wild Flavors: One Chef's Transformative Year Cooking from Eva's Farm Hardcover – October 19, 2011

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Greens, herbs, and root vegetables play a critical role in cooking and offer distinctive flavors to fish, meats, and other vegetables. What would tomatoes be without basil? Chicken without tarragon? Chef Emmons recounts her collaboration with Eva Sommaripa, a farmer whose knowledge of edible plants has made her a legend in the Northeast. For this cookbook, Emmons follows the seasons. Stored winter root vegetables such as beets and parsnips find complementary flavors in juniper berries when no greens appear. Spring prompts the first verdant shoots and offers plenty of opportunity for foraging in budding forests. Summer brings basil, fennel, and exotic lemongrass. Fall's kale copes with the first frosts. To prepare all these natural and garden greens, Emmons offers recipes embracing vegan, vegetarian, and meat options. Full-color photos help novices identify unfamiliar vegetation. This is a particularly valuable resource for cookery reference collections for its in-depth treatment of both wild and domestic edible green plants.

"Chef Didi Emmons' intimate portrait of Eva Sommaripa, one of New England's most eccentric and charismatic growers, has lessons for us all. From arugula and basil, to spruce shoots and stinging nettles, this book tells you how to prepare, store, save and eat just about everything. Highly recommended!"--Jane Black, IATP Food & Community Fellow

"Wild Flavors is a down-to-earth book rich in ideas and inspiration for people seeking to eat from their gardens and local areas. It's filled with mouth-watering recipes and valuable cultivation, shopping, and storage tips. But more than anything, this book is a celebration of the ethics and wisdom of Eva Sommaripa, the farmer whose herbs and outlook transformed Didi Emmons and prompted her to write this book. Eva has manifested throughout her life the kind of aspirations many are just now coming to hold. May this sharing of Eva's story help empower more people to realize their dreams of becoming more connected to the land and other creatures."--Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved

"Award-winning food writer and Boston chef, Didi Emmons, has written a charming cookbook. Wild Flavors chronicles a year spent with farmer Eva Sommaripa on her incredibly forward-thinking farm, complete with 150+ innovative, explosively flavorful recipes that Didi developed to help you take full advantage of the best your farmer's market or natural foods market has to offer. You'll never look at produce quite the same way."--Steven Raichlen, author, Barbecue! Bible, and PBS host, Barbecue University

"Didi Emmons has long been a hero to me. She teaches, tempts and transforms all of our senses, even our common sense. Let her artistry open our eyes and taste buds to the wild flavors all around us. Enjoy!"--Frances Moore Lappe, author of EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want

"Didi Emmons, a local rock star of vegetarian cuisine, has written a lovely and unique cookbook, jam packed with yummy recipes for using everything a plant has to offer -- the bulbs, stalks, leaves, flowers and fruits. This book fills an important niche in the cookbook world."--Melissa Kogut, executive director, Chefs Collaborative

"If you are a city person, like me, with a secret yen to forage for wild greens, Wild Flavors is an inspiration. Read it, and you will want to harvest, share, and eat everything you find. Emmons's friend Eva, a committed and skilled forager and grower, not only creates delicious meals from home-grown foods, but also creates a community built around wild foods as a way of life. Best, Emmons's recipes are lovely and easy to follow."--Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies ,and Public Health, NYU, and author, Food Politics and What to Eat

"Wild Flavors ushers in a new era of cookbook writing. Much more than a collection of ingredient-driven recipes (brilliant, rustic yet modern, recipes), Didi also serves up engrossing stories peppered with practical tips, tools, and tidbits for foraging, growing, and preparing seasonal fare. This timely book not only underscores Didi's immense talent as an innovative chef, it showcases the joys of connecting with our food from seed to table."--Bryant Terry, author, The Inspired Vegan

"With brilliance, love, and a sense of humor, Didi Emmons captures the wild and wacky spirit of Eva Sommaripa and her world of herbs. She walks you through Eva's garden and into her kitchen where you'll want to dive in, roll up your sleeves and start cooking with lovage, purslane, and all kinds of plants you may never have heard of before, but probably could find in your own back yard."--Jody Adams, chef, Rialto Restaurant

About the Author

Didi Emmons began cooking omelets when she was ten and had her own catering business by the age of fourteen. After earning a BS in food service management at NYU, serving as a stagiaire (apprentice) to La Varenne (cooking school) in Paris and opening several restaurants in the Boston area, she opened Haley House Bakery Cafe, a non-profit cafe in Roxbury, whose staff are people transitioning from homelessness and incarceration. She has since begun a program at Haley House Bakery Cafe, called "Take Back the Kitchen," teaching Roxbury and Dorchester residents how to eat and cook healthfully.Her first book, Vegetarian Planet, was nominated for a James Beard Award. Her second book, Entertaining for a Veggie Planet, won the Best Book in the Healthy Category by the International Association of Cooking Professionals (formerly the Julia Child Award).

Emmons also serves as a trans fat consultant for the Boston Public Health Commission, as well as a food consultant for the Boston Public School food service. She is currently collaborating with Dr. Walter Willett (author of Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy) on a project about inexpensive but healthy food.Didi was inspired to write Wild Flavors after she met Eva Sommaripa whose herbs and greens are widely coveted by Boston-area chefs. While she is revered for the unsurpassed quality of her produce, she is equally admired for her energetic commitment to a simple and environmentally conscious lifestyle.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 1st Printing edition (October 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603582851
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603582858
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #835,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By BookWorm on November 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an incredible must-have book for anyone out there who likes to know where their food comes from and enjoys exploring new flavors in their kitchen. Recipes aside for a moment, the book itself is beautiful. The pictures pull you into the lush verdant world that is Eva's Garden, and I have spent hours reading through the charming, funny, and poignant vignettes, stories, and lessons that give the reader a glimpse into the quirky but purposeful life of Eva Sommaripa. (It would make a beautiful gift for friends who love to farm and/or cook - I am ordering a bunch as Christmas gifts).

The book follows Eva and her unusual herbs and greens through one full year - and each season has an overarching theme (winter: salvaging, spring: community, summer: bartering, Fall: preserving). The recipes are conveniently organized by season AND crop, making this a perfect book for people like me who are attracted to the lesser known fruits and vegetables you find at the farmers market. How many times have I gotten home with a quirky root vegetable or a mystery green that I knew nothing about? Emmons book is a veritable encyclopedia of such ingredients. If you are intimidated by fresh herbs (I was), this book will change your life- Emmons writes about each ingredient as she would an old friend, giving unfamiliar herbs like Chervil or African Basil context and personality that will help ease your anxieties. Not only does she give background information on each ingredient (tips on storing it once you've brought it home, health virtues, an overview of culinary uses, and growing tips for the budding home gardener) -- she goes on to share a handful of recipes that feature each ingredient.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
`Wild Flavors' is a the result of the pairing of a chef-Didi Emmons and Eva Sommaripa who rules Eva's Garden and supplies many restaurants with edible ingredients. She also is known for not wasting anything if it can possibly be used or recycled into something else useful or edible. Didi describes how she changes her cooking style - using parts of vegetables and food she normally would not have used, local food, and sustainability.
The idea behind all of this is that herbs and vegetables have so much more flavor; they do not need heavy cream, cheese, no white flour, no white rice or tomato paste. Eva's core principles are explained; and the basics of equipment and storing and using herbs and greens are all well done. This should start to give you an idea of how to change your eating and cooking patterns. We are advised to follow the recipes loosely.

Recipes are divided by the seasons with each available ingredient; such as for winter: beets, cabbage, juniper berries, parsnip, potatoes, rutabagas, sprouts and some additional recipes are included. For each of the ingredients there is some text concerning it. The recipes are not difficult. The only "problem" will be in certain peoples' taste aversions to some of the ingredients. If you do not like parsnips at all, it is hard to make a recipe that makes them appealing for you.
Some of the ingredients are definitely not your common garden varieties, but it is interesting to try something new, to support local growers and most of all, not to waste the earth's resources and its' bounty. I do wish some of the more uncommon ingredients, such as lovage and Japanese knotweed would have had illustrations of what they look like.

This would be a good book for cookbook collectors, those wishing to eat more healthful recipes, and those wishing to eat less meat or even none at all. (There are a couple recipes in here using deer and duck). It's as much a way of life, as a cookbook.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. Roth on December 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Rarely, a book comes along that changes how you think about food, cookbooks, and cooking. "Wild Flavors" is such a book. Didi Emmons created an incredibly useful book that is likely to be on my shelf and in my hands all year long.

The brilliant layout is part of the inspiration. She shares a useful overview of each highlighted plant. This includes insights into growing, harvesting, and using the specific ingredient. Are you or someone you know seeking a gardening-fix during the dark of the year? The book is a winner.

Likewise, those seeking unique recipes and fresh ideas are also re rewarded. Rarely-used herbs or unique applications focus completely on the quality of each ingredient. One of the greatest surprises came from the foraging pieces. I've no doubt my grandmother, a serious gardener with 2 acres producing food for her family, would get along well with Eva, pig weed was her bane. I had no idea it was edible. Today while walking my dogs I constantly looked for this weed, also known as gooseweed. Finding none, I'll have to wait for trying those recipes.

Vignettes scattered throughout immerse the reader in the tumble of a year on this famous farm. Personality quirks, thoughts on this kind of lifestyle, and startling recipes get all your juices stirring. You may come away from your read with more questions than answers. Those who are truly interested in eating well while living with our planet rather than fighting it, you won't fell your time has been wasted with the book.

I'm pleased to highly recommend the book. No doubt my copy will become worn and well-loved over the next year. Perhaps you want to share a year of your own with this unique food journey.
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