Winner of the 1999 IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Award in the category of Literary Food Writing
Frank Browning leads us on a beguiling journey through the primal myths of the world's most popular fruit, then explains that the first apples really appeared in Kazakhstan on the slopes of the Heavenly Mountains. He visits the apple germ-plasm repository in Geneva, New York, and describes the powerful effects of genetic engineering on the apples of the future. In Wenatchee, Washington, world capital of apple growing, he meets Mr. Granny Smith and learns about the apple's niche in the global marketplace, before setting off to sample Calvados from the pot stills of Normandy and cider from Somerset.
Frank Browning, whose previous books include The Culture of Desire and A Queer Geography (FSG, 1998), grows apples and ferments cider in Wallingford, Kentucky. He also reports for National Public Radio from New York City.
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Frank Browning, whose previous books include The Culture of Desire and A Queer Geography (Noonday, 1998), grows apples and ferments cider in Wallingford, Kentucky. He also reports for National Public Radio from New York City.From Publishers Weekly:
In what he describes as "a quirky piece of personal and agricultural storytelling," Browning (A Queer Geography) contemplates aspects of the "forbidden fruit," from its probable origins in the mountains of Kazakhstan to its modern transformation into a high-tech product of commercial orchards. In his quest for knowledge about the apple, he talks to collectors of old varieties, commercial monoculturists, genetic engineers and master cider-makers. He travels to Kazakhstan to meet a scientist who devotes his life to the preservation of the world's original apple forests; to Geneva, N.Y., to visit Cornell University's apple-breeding program; and to France, England and the western hills of Virginia to taste traditional ciders. Although he is unenthusiastic about the perfectly shaped but bland Golden Delicious, Jonathans, Red Delicious, Granny Smiths and Fujis found in supermarkets today, he realizes that the tastier heirloom varieties such as Westfield Seek-No-Further, Newton Pippin, Winter Pearmain and Roxbury Russet are not commercially viable. Accepting the apple as a "full partner in the age of science and modernism," he's optimistic that breeders, perhaps by crossing apples from the primeval forests of Kazakhstan with other varieties, will create new apples that are flavorful as well as long-keeping, hardy and disease-resistant. A chapter on the apple in mythology and religion is a bit superficial, but for the most part, Browning, who owns an apple orchard in Kentucky, is informative and entertaining, though his story lacks the overarching historical context or the narrative drive of a book like Mark Kurlansky's Cod. Appendices include descriptions of 20 "prize" apples, new and old; a brief discussion of rootstocks and tree sizes, for backyard orchardists; and a sampling of apple and cider recipes from around the world. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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