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Distributed for Reaktion Books


A Global History

Cheerfully offering themselves to passersby, berries have been juicy staples of the human diet for millennia. They are good luck charms and amulets to some, portents of doom to others. They inspire everything from lip gloss flavors to amusement parks (Knott’s Berry Farm, anyone?)—but eat some varieties and your days will be numbered. We create special bowls and spoons for their presentation and consumption, and without them, there would be no Neapolitan ice cream, and jam would be nothing but a marmalade (though oranges are technically berries, too). However diminutive their stature, berries are of such significance to Northern and Eastern Europeans that picking them in the wild is deemed “everyman’s right,” an act interwoven with cultural identity.

In Berries, Heather Arndt Anderson uncovers the offbeat stories of how humans came to love these tiny, bewildering fruits. Readers meet the inventor of thornless brambles; learn ancient fables and berry-lore; discover berries’ uses in both poisonous witches’ brews and modern superfood health crazes. Featuring a selection of historic and original recipes for berry lovers to try, this is a witty and lushly illustrated ramble through the curious history of our favorite fruits, from interlopers like strawberries (not true berries) to the real deal: tomatoes.

176 pages | 55 color plates, 5 halftones | 4 3/4 x 7 3/4 | © 2018


Food and Gastronomy

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"This work is part of the outstanding Edible series by Reaktion Books. This series attempts to integrate horticultural and botanical literature within a social and cultural context. Books are written in an accessible, engaging style, and incorporate many high quality images. This volume by Anderson, a botanist and culinary historian, approaches berries using the popular meaning rather than the botanical definition. Photographs and illustrations depict a wide range of berries from all over the world, commercial products made from berries, and berries in art. Recommended."


"I have spent many warm, autumn afternoons, picking plump blackberries from field hedgerows. . . . Berries documents such traditions, along with intriguing botany, berry-lore, and the berry’s place in international medicinal and culinary history. . . . Anderson covers the huge topic amazingly well, keeping the discussion engaging and entertaining throughout. . . . These stories, as well as the folk tales and mythology, make for a fascinating read. . . . I have a new appreciation for these jewel-like fruits."

Gardens Illustrated

"There is much to learn about berries in this short book, with chapters covering their cultivation, culinary uses (from pies, preserves, cakes, and desserts to juices and alcoholic drinks), and their historical role as both poison and panacea. . . . Concise and attractively illustrated, Berries makes a tasty snack."

OxVeg News

Table of Contents

1 Botany
2 Berry-lore
3 Picking and Growing
4 Dishes and Drinks
5 Poison and Panacea
Appendix: Botanical Descriptions
Websites and Associations
Photo Acknowledgements

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