I got a new cookbook for my recent birthday. If the truth be told, I bought it for myself. No guilt though; I’ll use it to guide me through the recipes to feed friends and family. Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard, by Nigel Slater is a big beautiful book with a strong emphasis on fresh grown, summer ripe fruit. What could be more wholesome??
The time the author takes to describe a particular fruit or berry fresh from his English garden is like reading poetry. He is truly in love with fruit. In the introduction he sets the tone for the book: “The last berries, apples, and plums, wet and almost rotting from the late sun and autumn rain, lend a mellow, alcoholic scent to the space, like the dregs of an abandoned glass of wine. The garden is falling asleep with an air of damp tobacco and wood smoke, but it still abundant too, with late blackberries, damsons, and a grapevine at breaking point.” Ahhh!
The author shares much of his early gardening experience, including the failures of too close plantings and pollination issues. His entertaining, over the top enthusiasm for his fruit garden and his humorous self deprecation of his gardening mishaps make for a fun read. His garden is small but it sounds like he’s learned how to use it to full advantage and I’m quite sure he loves every single piece of fruit he harvests and every square inch of ground on which it’s planted.
This photograph reflects the same colors as the needlepoint I’ve been working on.
It’s fun to read of his beautiful garden and then pick out favorite recipes to count on this fall. It makes gardening all the more worthwhile when you know what you plan on doing with your bounty. There are some less typical recipes like a casserole of apple and rabbit or rollmop herrings with beet and apple, but then I turn the page for mouth-watering suggestions like little fig and blackberry pies. I’m anxious to work my way through this delicious book, earmarking particular recipes for the ripened fruit from my garden and the farmers market. If you want to fall in love with fruit, consider giving yourself the gift of Ripe as an addition to your cookbook shelf.