A K I T C H E N G A R D E N C H R O N I C L E. A true labour of love, Tender is the story of my vegetable patch, how it came to be and what I grow in it. The book is published in two volumes, the first dedicated to vegetables and the second to fruit.
Twelve hundred pages in length and taking five years to write, Tender is a memoir, a study of fifty of our favourite vegetables, fruits and nuts and a collection of over five hundred recipes. Photographed, as all of my books, by Jonathan Lovekin in my own kitchen a metre away from the garden.
This, the first volume, is dedicated to vegetables. As the church bells chimed on New Year's Eve, and fireworks lit up the night sky, I vowed to dig up my lawn and grow at least some of my own vegetables and fruit. In a city garden barely bigger than the average allotment I would go on to grow dark, smoky-leaved cabbages, violet carrots, eight varieties of potato and exquisitely flavoured heritage tomatoes.
As well as the tale of my vegetable patch, there are over six hundred pages of suggestions on what to grow and how to grow it, with 178 recipes, 102 of which without meat or fish.
Tender Volume i is published in hardback, is 620 pages long and quarter bound in blue-green linen. It was photograped by Jonathan Lovekin, designed by Sam Blok and set in Adobe Garamond. The book was printed by Legatoria Editoriale Giovanni Olivotto in Vicenza.
From the introduction:
'I am a gentle cook and one who believes there is a delight in food far beyond what is on the plate. Choosing a seed from a catalogue (who could resist a squash named Amish Pie or an apple named Cornish Gillyflower?), planting it, nurturing it, then picking it and taking it into the kitchen will add more to the satisfaction of a supper than any amount of flashy presentation.
The beauty of a single lettuce, its inner leaves tight and crisp, the outer ones opened up like those of a cottage garden rose; the glowing saffron flesh of a cracked pumpkin; the curling tendrils of a pea plant and a bag of assorted tomatoes in shades of scarlet, green and orange is something I like to take my time over. And not only is it the look of them that is beguiling. The rough feel of a runner bean between the fingers, the chilish pop of a peapod, the cool, vellum-like skin of a freshly dug potato, are all reasons to linger. And all that even before we turned the oven on.'
Published by Fourth Estate (London 2009), Dumont Buchverlag (Germany 2010 as 'Germüse') and Ten Speed Press, Random House (New York 2010).