A Survey of Common Vegetables

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Chapter 5 described the general nature of plant foods and their behavior in the kitchen. This chapter and the next two survey some familiar vegetables, fruits, and flavorings. Because we eat hundreds of different plants, and countless varieties of them, these surveys can only be selective and sketchy. They’re meant to highlight the distinctive qualities of these foods, to help the food lover appreciate those qualities more fully and make the best use of them.

These chapters give special attention to two features of our plant foods. One is family relationships, which tell us which plants are related to each other, and conversely how varied a given species can be. Such information helps us make sense of similarities and differences among particular foods, and may suggest ideas for interesting combinations and themes.