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Review: Local Flavors

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Local Flavors:
Cooking & Eating from America's Farmer's Markets

By Deborah Madison
ISBN: 0767903498
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication date: June 2002
Format: Hardcover
List price: $39.95 (Canada, UK)
Type: Single Subject: Farmers' Market
Sample recipes: Late-Season Tomato-Vegetable Soup, Avocado and Grapefruit Salad with Pomegranates and Pistachios
intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive Biblical stature coffee-table
competition: outclassed also-ran midrange strong challenger leads the pack
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 >300
practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% >80%
# of ingredients: <3 <6 <9 <12 >12
ingredient hunt: 7-11 pantry supermarket farmers' market airfare required
recipe complexity: baby steps simple medium intense professional
instructions: inadequate bare bones full figured educational verbose
time conscious: outright lies speed of light fairly quick takes time takes all day
photos/drawings: skimpy adequate generous instructive glorious
recipe results: dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
flavor quotient: disappointing fair good delicious exceptional
layout: ick cluttered clean kind to cooks work of art
legibility: microscopic challenging adequate clear brilliant
production quality: cheesy questionable years of service gift-quality stunning
value: ouch! a little pricey on the money excellent worth splurging
Ease of Use
page numbers: invisible hard to find spotty adequate obvious
table of contents: missing frustrating passable useful helpful
index quality: none tragic adequate good excellent
page flipping: infuriating tedious acceptable rare never
writer: hack cook turned writer writer turned cook comedian auteur
cook: self-taught non-restaurant chef teacher celebrity
overall rating: fair good above average excellent Ochef Top 100
Comments: Farmers' markets are simple enough. But Deborah Madison's cookbooks tend not to be so simple. Ingredients can be a little exotic, combinations unusual, and processes and instructions a bit intricate. Then again, if you're going to the trouble of writing a substantial new cookbook, you should make it unique.

Based on her travels to more than 100 of the nation's 3,000+ farmers' markets, Madison has sought to highlight and meld the great variety of produce available in different parts of the country in different seasons into interesting, flavorful recipes. The book is essentially organized seasonally, starting with spring, coursing through the year, and ending up with foods that are available year round and those that store well for long periods. There is also historical and anecdotal information on some of the markets and some of the farmers.

Even though Madison is perhaps best known for her vegetarian cookbooks, among them the seminal Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, a number of recipes in this collection include meat and fish — as do more and more farmers' markets.

This book is ideal for people with sophisticated palates, fairly good cooking skills, and a love of the freshest produce (everyone loves the freshest produce; it's the other two categories where some of us may slip through the cracks).

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