Vegetable Literacy: Deborah Madison Describes Some Plant Families

It may come as a small surprise to some, Deborah Madison, culinary chef, veteran cookbook author and founder of the legendary Green’s Restaurant in San Francisco, considers herself but a beginner gardener.

Nonetheless, the idea for her latest book, Vegetable Literacy, grew out of natural curiosity when she began to ask herself certain questions about the plants she watched growing in her garden. As Madison says in An Interview with Deborah Madison: Vegetable Literacy, she “became interested in the principles that unite plants, herbs, and flowers into certain families”, and how many of the common plants we consume, not only are related, members within an individual family can be used together as complimentary ingredients for cooking.

In the interview above, Deborah Madison talks about some of the botanical families, and their edible members that are organized by chapter in her book. Below is a partial list of chapters from Vegetable Literacy mentioned in the video, along with a sampling of their individual members:

  1. The (Former) Lily Family: Onions and Asparagus: includes chives, cipolllini, garlic, green onions, among others.
  2. The Mint Family: Square Stems and Fragrant Leaves: includes anise hyssop, basil, bee balm, sage, and more…
  3. The Cabbage Family: includes arugula, bok choy, mustards, radishes, and much more.
  4. The Sunflower Family: includes absinthe, artichokes, sunflowers, tarragon, etc..
  5. The Cucurbit Family: includes buffalo gourd, cucumbers, melons, winter squash, and more.
  6. The Grass Family: Grains and cereals-includes barley, frikeh, oats, rice, wild rice, and more.
  7. The Legume Family: Peas and Beans-includes alfalfa, split peas, black-eyed peas, lentils, mesquite, and many others.

Disclosure: CUPS received a complimentary book in preparation for this interview.

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