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I bought this book at a friend's recommendation primarily for the Lamb & Quince Tagine recipe. That recipe was superb! Since then, I've routinely turned to this book looking for innovative ways to use less-common fruits. Recently, pomegranate and persimmon.
Pomegranate is in season here in Texas and I wasn't aware of anything terribly clever to do with the seeds, short of tossing them in a salad (which, sure, it's great, but man can't live on salad alone! Or at least, I can't.) You can do lots with the juice, but you don't need fresh pomegranates for that. I wanted something that highlighted the fresh fruit itself. Her recipes? Any that used the actual seeds put them... on a salad. Come on, Alice!
Then it was persimmon. Persimmons are in season here now too and are dirt cheap and delicious. I also recently had a soup at the French Laundry that consisted of a parsnip, compressed Fuyu persimmon, black truffle puree, and pine nuts, and it was outstanding. So, again, I opened CP Fruit hoping for some really novel flavor combinations with the persimmon. The recipes? The obligatory persimmon cookies, a persimmon pudding recipe that looks fine but very simple, and then some salads. Again, nothing too bold.
Maybe that's Alice's style, although I've eaten a few times at the Chez Panisse cafe (upstairs) and had some really creative and novel things. So I know her penchant for fresh, local ingredients isn't necessarily also about such simple preparations.
As a final note, incidental except that it does affect my use of the book, it's a beautiful book but will not stay open at all. It's the worst of all my cookbooks for that. I brought a squeeze-clamp in from my toolshed to my kitchen explicitly to hold this book open when I use it.
Not to put it down too much, like I said, there are certainly great recipes in here, and even the simple ones are definitely delicious. Plus, each fruit-chapter begins with a few pages of history and usage notes that are interesting and sometimes useful.
I'll put it this way: Don't get this book expecting to have your eyes opened to startling new ways to put fruit to use in cooking. Instead, expect a solid set of relatively simple (and often classic) recipes for using that fruit. Valuable to some, maybe, but not usually what I'm looking for when I head for my cookbook shelf.