Synopses & Reviews
"[A] glorious mash-up of memoir, love note, and cookbook... Every sentence is as sensuous as the first bite into a cold, juicy plum." Hillary Kelly, Vulture
"[A] dazzling, thorny new essay collection." Samin Nosrat, The New York Times
Inspired by twenty-six fruits, the essayist, poet, and pie lady Kate Lebo expertly blends natural, culinary, medical, and personal history.
A is for Aronia, berry member of the apple family, clothes-stainer, superfruit with reputed healing power. D is for Durian, endowed with a dramatic rind and a shifty odor--peaches, old garlic. M is for Medlar, name-checked by Shakespeare for its crude shape, beloved by gardeners for its flowers. Q is for Quince, which, fresh, gives off the scent of roses and citrus and rich women's perfume but if eaten raw is so astringent it wicks the juice from one's mouth.
In this work of unique invention, these and other difficult fruits serve as the central ingredients of twenty-six lyrical essays (and recipes) that range from deeply personal to botanical, from culinary to medical, from humorous to philosophical. The entries are associative, often poetic, taking unexpected turns and giving sideways insights into life, relationships, self-care, modern medicine, and more. What if the primary way you show love is to bake, but your partner suffers from celiac disease? Why leave in the pits for Willa Cather's Plum Jam? How can we rely on bodies as fragile as the fruits that nourish them?
Lebo's unquenchable curiosity leads us to intimate, sensuous, enlightening contemplations. The Book of Difficult Fruit is the very best of food writing: graceful, surprising, and ecstatic.
Includes black and white illustrations
"Witty.... Unusual and piquant, this... will hit the spot with readers hungry for something a little different." Publishers Weekly, starred
"Darkly funny... often fascinating, sometimes juicy, rarely dry... The Book of Difficult Fruit is brimming with obscure knowledge that's going to loom over every gin martini I drink for the next decade, and there are fantastic recipes too... Delicious and meaningful." Alex Beggs, The New York Times Book Review
"A collection of personal essays about family, illness and nature, each linked to a different fruit that — over the years, warranted or otherwise — has developed something of a bad reputation. It is a beautiful read." Stuart Heritage, The Guardian
About the Author
Kate Lebo is the author of the cookbook Pie School and the poetry chapbook Seven Prayers to Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and is the coeditor, with Samuel Ligon, of Pie & Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter & Booze. Her essay about listening through hearing loss, "The Loudproof Room," originally appeared in New England Review and was anthologized in The Best American Essays 2015. She lives in Spokane, Washington, where she is an apprentice cheesemaker to Lora Lea Misterly of Quillisascut Farm.