... darkly funny ... 'Deeply researched' doesn’t begin to describe how far into ancient texts and their subtexts, obscure cookbooks and corners of the internet Lebo excavated to tell us the stories of these fruits. What she digs up for each is often fascinating, sometimes juicy, rarely dry ... Along the way, we get morsels of memoir like carefully plucked trail berries. These glimpses reveal...the kind of truths you can’t find in a library ... 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 ... These recipes include some of the book’s funniest moments ... This is where the fruit we used as a stand-in for depression, motherhood or a bad ex is transformed back into its original, edible self. The ingredients, like words, get thoughtfully measured and weighed and mixed into something delicious and meaningful. Or maybe it’s just a pie.
... [a] blend of richly researched food history, gentle memoir and left-field recipe book ... It would be a shame if this book didn’t attract readers without an existing curiosity in the subject, because Lebo brings as generous an eye to its broader topics – relationships, reproductive health, illness and death – as she does her fruits and their histories and uses, their beauty and their terror.
Lebo undertakes an intriguing creative exercise in this wonder-filled book ... While Lebo weaves in memoiristic notes, the fruits and their histories and uses take center stage, and each entry ends with a couple of narrative recipes for items both edible and not ... Lovers of food and nature writing will appreciate Lebo’s rangy, researched ode to wildness.
Lebo begins her latest book by perfectly capturing the difference between reading and executing recipes ... Lebo effectively uses fruit as a starting point for exploring raw feelings and offering wry observations about her life, friends, and family. Perhaps the most moving chapters are where Lebo turns inward, focusing on her hopes and dreams and how reflecting on the tastes and textures of various fruits has inspired her to write ... A genre-blending work that will intrigue readers of literary nonfiction, personal essays, or food history.
None of these difficulties prevent the author from offering outstanding recipes for traditional fruity treats such as jams, jellies, pies, syrups, and smoothies. She also discusses such delightfully unexpected home and self-care items as paper and cloth dye, lip balm, skin care masks, and even hiker’s toilet paper (thimbleberry leaves). What makes Lebo’s collection so distinctive is the way she interweaves stories about her own life into her celebrations of the fruits ... Eloquent, well-researched, and thoughtfully conceived and organized, this genre-defying book will appeal to foodies as well as those who appreciate both fine writing and the pleasures of domestic arts and crafts ... A one-of-a-kind reading experience.
... [a] sensationally chaotic compendium ... Each chapter features a different hard-to-wrangle fruit, a discussion of its history and usages, and witty medicinal and culinary recipes, and are leavened with pungently wrought memoir. In these tangential turns, Lebo never fails to surprise. On the recipe front, many concoctions feel like the result of hard-won battles—one imagines Lebo’s kitchen overflowing with sticky pots and jars—with cravings-inducing taste-combinations such as a barley soup with fennel sausage and 'faceclock greens' or vanilla bean cake with buttercream. Unusual and piquant, this off-kilter collection will hit the spot with readers hungry for something a little different.