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Melissa's Great Book of Produce
By Cathy Thomas
ISBN: 0764571877
Publisher: Wiley
Format: Hardcover
List price: $29.95 
Type: Ingredients: Produce; Refrence
Sample recipe: Magenta Soup
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 ≥300
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: 7-Eleven airfare required online pantry supermarket
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose bare-bones full-figured educational
Time conscious: unconscious outright lies white lies realistic honorable
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant balanced generous
Photos/drawings: none distracting decorative instructive glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Tone: food police intense neutral supportive comforting
Result: guilt-inducing heavy-handed balanced encouraging inspiring
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy dubious years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: non-existent hard-to-find spotty sufficient every page
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writer: beginner food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: Sponsored by Melissa's World Variety Produce, the leading distributor of specialty fruits and vegetables, and written by journalist Cathy Thomas, this book has lots of great information. Each entry includes a description (and often photo) of each fruit or vegetable, buying and storing information, when during the year it is available, how to prep it, a list of the most common uses for it, nutritional information, and serving suggestions – which often includes a complete recipe.

But the book does not quite live up to its subtitle: "Everything You Need to Know About Fresh Fruits and Vegetables." Various fruits and vegetables – both commonplace and exotic – are missing. Where are the apples? If you're going to cover peaches and pears, you might as well include apples. Where is the durian? Not that everyone will care, but where are the Brussels sprouts? Who knows what else is missing? We cannot discern a pattern for why some fruits and vegetables are included and others are not.

It is possible that some produce is included that we just can't find, because the index all but ruins the book. Do you know that ramps are a kind of leek? You can only find them by going to the leeks page – they're not listed in the index. Neither are hundreds of fruits and vegetables that are in the book. You have to know that spinach is found under greens and not under its own very well-known name, because it's not listed in the index. At the very least, the index makes this useless as a reference book; you either have to know which family a fruit or vegetable belongs to, or just have to hope to stumble upon the information you need.

The book would receive a higher rating, but a good index is a necessity in a reference book.


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