Those who first fell under Michael Pollan’s spell while reading The Botany of Desire will find themselves equally vulnerable to this captivating history of plants that have excited human beings. Mabey, a leading British naturalist, does not write exclusively about food plants—there are chapters here as varied as carnivorous plants, cotton, and daffodils—but the wide frame of reference and insight he brings to writing about maize, samphire, apples, olive trees, and the like makes this a great choice for anyone whose interest in food begins before ingredients reach the kitchen. Mint, we learn, was fundamental to early investigations of photosynthesis; two hundred-year-old nettles can still sting!
Color and black-and-white illustrations. Paperback.