Interviste, Libri in cucina

Searching for Roots in your kitchen

Per la versione italiana, clicca qui.

You find it in the unexpected place! That’s a golden rule for love and good food.
How ofter do you discover that an undervalued ingredient is really special?

Diane Morgan is convinced. Roots are special, they could be kings and queens of your everyday diet. She is so convinced that worked on The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes.
She’s really convincing that can count on the forewords by Deborah Madison (do you remind her? She’s the author of Vegetable Literacy). While Diane admits that she wrote that book for selfish reasons: she wanted to know more on Roots. And a long journey is better if done with good readers and friends.

She conquested me as soon as in the Introduction she tell of the vegetable diaspora from New World and Old World and reverse. Her aim is to share the history and the lore of the root cellar and provide basic botanital information on roots. To do that Roots is organized in 28 chapters arranged alphabetically by vegetable. While 225 recipes are the heart of the books.

Before to get capture by recipes as the Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad and roots a few questions to Diane Morgan could help to capture better what Roots hide.

valls_morgan_507To write a 432 page long book on Roots, it’s necessary to have a big passion on them. How your passion born, have grown and became a huge book?

Researching and writing about root vegetables became a passion when I realized how underserved these vegetables were in the food world. My curiosity about roots developed because of the beautiful farmers’ markets we have around the United States, and in my particular hometown of Portland, Oregon. We have such a variety of roots grown in the Pacific Northwest–over 20 kinds–and most folks shopping for roots in the wintertime have very little knowledge of what to do with them. I wanted to learn more about roots and develop an extensive repertoire of recipes using these nutritious roots. That passion led to my writing an entire cookbook on root vegetables!

Let help Italian readers to understard Roots. How do you describe it? A cookbook? An encyclopedia? What else?

I call my cookbook, Roots, the “bible” of root vegetables because it includes all existing root vegetables–the ones we know and don’t know–from the humble potato to the obscure tubers called crosnes.It is both an encyclopedia and a cookbook. Italians have the root, scorzonera, otherwise known as black salsify. I haven’t been to Italy in winter to know if one sees it in the marketplace and if it is broadly used. It is a lovely and delicious root that I wanted consumers to know about. That is one example of the breath of what I wanted the book to cover.

patate viola insalata piatto

I see a great attention to varieties for each root you present in the book. Which role do they play in the root world, in your book and in your life?

Roots play a key role in the diet of so many cultures. We think of the African nations that depend on roots for sustenance–they are cheap and nutritious. In Central and South America, tropical roots such a malanga or taro are key to many of their iconic dishes. That is certainly true for European cultures. We think of potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, beets, and even carrots, as fundamental to many European dishes. So roots play a big role in many cuisines and my book provides that knowledge in one volume.

carote violaIn your book you stress the fact that roots are not only dull and brown. Do they really can color our tables?

Just think of the beautiful roots like carrots and beets–they are gorgeous! Roots are certainly not dull when approached from a culinary standpoint. Exploiting their goodness was essential in my book. Finding both the savory and sweet side of roots was an exciting journey in my kitchen. I love that carrots and beets can be eaten both raw and cooked. They can be turned into a luscious cake (carrot poppyseed bundt cake) as well as eaten in a soup or stew. I developed a recipe for carrot ribbons with sorrel pesto and goat cheese! There is nothing dull or brown in that recipe!!

Finally, Roots and seasons. Could you help Italian readers to discover a different root for each season?

Let’s think about the season for roots. We see baby radishes, turnips, carrots, and beets in the spring. We can eat the tender roots raw or cooked and turn the delicious, bushy green tops into a soup or even pesto. In summer, the bright roots continue on. In the fall, especially after the first hard frost, is the time to harvest and use parsnips. Celery root, salsify and scorzonera, potatoes, and sweet potatoes are fall and wintertime vegetables that hold well in a root cellar or cold storage. It is there “staying power” or storage capabilities that make them so valuable as a wintertime food. Plus, they are highly nutritious and not expensive. A real winner in the vegetable family.

Happy to share my knowledge to you your readers.

I’ll run to read (again) Roots. And you?