Introduction

The vegetables are a motley and hard-to-organize horde, and there are more of them all the time as old-time vegetables are reintroduced and vegetables from around the world join the old stand-bys. I'd guess there are maybe 5 times as many different vegetables listed here as in the first edition of this book. But many of them are closely related and are similarly grown, harvested, preserved, and prepared.

So in this new edition I've changed to a dual organizational system, grouping vegetables either by botanical family or by the part of the plant that we eat. This allows me to present them in somewhat related groups rather than in a strictly alphabetized list. An alphabetized list would have amaranth greens near the beginning, lettuce in the middle, and spinach near the end, but here all three are grouped together in the section on greens.

The plant family sections are alliums (onion, garlic, etc.), brassicas

(cabbage, kale, cauliflower, etc.), cucurbits (gourd, squash, pumpkin, etc.), legumes (pea, bean, etc.), and nightshades (pepper, eggplant, tomato, etc.). The plant-part sections are "The Leaves

We Eat" (all kinds of greens), "The Stems We Eat" (asparagus, cardoon, celeriac, celery, celtuce, Florence fennel, globe artichoke, and rhubarb), "Flower Seeds," and "The Roots We Eat."

If in doubt about where to find a particular plant, look in the index or table of contents. Sometimes I had a hard time figuring out where to place a vegetable. Okra ended up in the nightshade section because, although it isn't a nightshade, I think it is very much like one. Rutabagas and turnips are in the root rather than the brassica section (although they are brassicas) because they're grown, harvested, and stored like the usual root vegetable, and that seemed more important in their case.

Mail-order sources for various vegetables are listed in most entries. Look for the addresses of those firms in the source list in Chapter 2. If they're not listed, look in the source lists in Chapter 5 (for firms that primarily carry herbs) and Chapter 6 (for firms that specialize in trees and fruits).

I'm starting with "alliums" (the onions) because it starts with A and I like onions.

Continue reading here: Allium All the Onions

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