Book Review

The Purple Kiwi Cookbook

by Karen Caplan

Friedaís, Inc., P.O. Box 58488, Los Angeles, CA 90058. $16.95, 2001, paperback, 127 pages, ISBN 0-9703226-0-7, Phone: 800-241-1771. On the Web:
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Reviewed by Benjamin F. Kuo (3/2001)

Itís no surprise that the president of Friedaís, the specialty fruit and produce distributor, would publish a cookbook devoted to the fruits and produce that her family lives and breathes. Karen Caplan, daughter of founder Frieda Caplan, recalls that one of her earliest memories is that of her mother returning from work with the "wonderful aroma of tropical fruit and citrus," and smelling of "eau de mango-papaya- pineapple-grapefruit." In The Purple Kiwi Cookbook, she attempts to capture that memory in recipes that diversify the uses of their products.

Caplan has compiled a collection of her favorite 100 recipes, taken from 850 that the company formulated in their test kitchen. Originally created for including in packaging and in response to customer letters, it offers a wide array of recipes for the exotic fruits and vegetables most readily available at your corner market.

Arranged alphabetically by major ingredient, the cookbook is divided into sections (Asian Pears to Donut Peaches ... Quince to Wood-Ear Mushrooms). Fact boxes are interspersed among the recipes, describing various fruits and vegetables and suggesting ways to serve them. A visual glossary, displaying fruits and giving their descriptions is a nice feature. Full-page color photographs show off many of the main dishes.

The nice thing about most of the recipes is the combination of ingredients--most of them include one or two exotic ingredients (like Kumquat Macadamia Chicken), rather than the typical use of them only as a condiment.

The cookbook might have been better organized by course, and itís somewhat difficult to separate main dishes from salads for a complete meal. For the rare-fruit enthusiast, only about a fourth of the recipes are for fruits; the rest are spent on more mundane ingredients such as baby broccoli, endives and leeks. In fact, the book presents no recipes for some of the fruits it features on its cover--babaco and persimmon--and doesnít include any recipes for guavas or sapotes, among others some of us would like to see. I would have appreciated the inclusion of more recipes for rare fruits, and fewer about specialty produce. Nevertheless, The Purple Kiwi Cookbook offers an unusual collection of recipes which you wonít find elsewhere. It will give you lots of new ideas on how to use the fruits you either grow or buy at the store.

© Copyright 2001, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
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