Whenever and wherever I'm traveling, I like to keep an eye out for the local Edible publication. Spotting a pile of them on a shelf at a food co-op or next to the potatoes at a local farmers market is like running into an old friend in an unexpected place. Flipping through the issue gives me a feeling for what's special and unique about the place I'm visiting.
If these individual magazines are like snapshots, then this book from Edible Communities is like the scrapbook you get to enjoy once you're back home. It's filled with stories upon stories from all over the country, bringing together a little something from every Edible publication. Farmers, artisan producers, local chefs, and recipes - it's all here.
This book is really two volumes in one. The first half of the book is broken into growing regions: Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, West, Northwest, and the Midwest. (My homestate of Ohio, I'd like to point out, apparently straddles no less than three of these regions!) Each section pulls the best writing from the Edible publications in those areas, tracing "the way food travels, from land and sea to table," as co-founder Tracey Ryder says in the introduction.
The second half of the book is a group of nearly 80 recipes. These are organized by season, which puts the regional foods and ingredients talked about in the first half into a seasonal perspective. They also showcase the flavors and styles of each region. There are Poblanos Stuffed with Cheese and Shrimp from Arizona in the summer and then Slow-Cooked Maple Cider Brisket from Vermont in the winter.
This book feels like part-travel guide, part-cookbook, and part-discussion piece. It's well-organized and comprehensive without feeling overwhelming. The incredible photographs, practically a trademark of all Edible publications, draw you into the stories and give the book a visual cohesiveness. The writing itself is also top-notch. I loved hearing the voices and perspectives of so many people writing about the things that make their communities great.
This book is exactly what it says: a celebration of local foods. It's made great bedtime reading for the past few weeks, though I'm excited to take it into the kitchen soon. Thumbs up to the Edible Communities, and we hope to see more compilations like this in the future.
• Buy It! Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian, $20 from Amazon.com
• Find Your Local Edible Publication! Edible Communities Homepage
(Images: Edible Communities)