This is a lovely book to snuggle up with on these long winter evenings. Forgotten Fruits has a beautiful cover and the feel of an old-fashioned quality volume. The off-white paper suggests a well-loved tome kept in a glass-fronted bookcase in a Victorian drawing room.
But what is it all about? Forgotten Fruits could be about that rotting mango at the back of the fridge or the wrinkled Christmas Satsuma in the fruit bowl. The full title is Forgotten Fruits – A Guide to Britain’s Traditional Fruit and Vegetables, and it’s also a social history of the most charming kind.
Christopher Stocks should be proud of this his first book. He is no stranger to writing, though: he has worked for Harpers & Queen, ES Magazine, Sky and Wallpaper. He has recently acted as the gardens correspondent for the Independent On Sunday and is a regular contributor to Gardens Illustrated.
Forgotten Fruits is full of historic anecdotes as well as horticultural information. This book will have you mentally planning your orchard and adjoining veg garden, even if you only have a window box and live in a 6th-floor flat in Feltham. You will be transported back to a more gentle time populated with head gardeners and the wealthy who employed them.
The author introduces us to the origins of fruits that are still familiar today. A brewer from Bermondsey retired to Colnbrook in the 1820’s. His home included two acres of orchards and gardens. Around 1825 he planted some apple seeds and he chose Ribston Pippin apples. It took a couple of years for the resulting seedlings to bear fruit but when they did those apples were unlike the parent fruit and had a much-improved flavour. The retired brewer was a Richard Cox and the fruit was christened Cox’s Orange Pippin!
Forgotten Fruits isn’t a recipe book but it will be enjoyed by anyone who loves food and has an interest in its origins. Forgotten Fruits isn’t a traditional gardening book but it will be appreciated by those who grow fruit and vegetables and want to continue with older varieties. Forgotten Fruits isn’t a history book but it has a wealth of information about changing tastes. I enjoyed this book immensely.
Author: Christopher Stocks
Published by: Random House
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018