A Country Life
A memorable book about the path food travels from garden to table
A celebration of life together, a tribute to an utterly unique garden, a wonderfully idiosyncratic guide for cooks and gardeners interested in exploring the possibilities of farm-to-table living—To Eat is all of these things and more.
In 1974, Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd moved from Boston to southern Vermont, where they became the proprietors of a twenty-eight-acre patch of wilderness. The land was forested, overgrown, and wild, complete with a stream. Today, North Hill's seven carefully cultivated acres—open to visitors during the warmer months—are an internationally renowned garden.
In the intervening years, both the garden and the gardening books (A Year at North Hill, Living Seasonally, Our Life in Gardens) Eck and Winterrowd created together have been acclaimed in many forms, including in the pages of The New York Times. They were at work on To Eat—which also includes recipes from the renowned chef and restaurateur Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta and beautiful illustrations from their long-time collaborator Bobbi Angell—when Winterrowd passed away, in 2010.
Informative, funny, and moving, the delights within—a runaway bull; a recipe for crisp, fatty chicarrones; a personal history of the Egyptian onion; a hymn to the magic of lettuce—are sure to make To Eat a book readers return to again and again.
At their home in North Hill, Vt., Eck and Winterrowd (who died in 2010, when this book was in progress) nurtured a seven-acre garden, reveling in its bounty and embracing harmony with nature. These elegant reflections on gardening and the vegetables and fruits they grow, harvest, and eat over four seasons offer a joyous celebration of our connection to food and the Earth. Writing about our attitude toward what we eat, for example, they observe that "we misuse our food. We treat it as a mere necessity when it is in fact an enormous pleasure... A simple cabbage or broccoli or cauliflower is, however you prepare it, goodness and pleasure, and what else ought we to seek in our lives?" About blueberries, they have the following to say: "Blueberries have every virtue. They are handsomely shaped, with dark sinuous twigging and foliage that in autumn turns a brilliant red." And on the artistic side of gardening, they write, "If gardening has a purpose, it is to engender plenitude, a delicious human fantasy that want is banished... the Eden of our imaginations, here and now." Gardeners and cooks should have a copy of this book, beautifully illustrated by Bobbi Angell and with recipes by Beatrice Tosti de Valminuta, in their kitchens, next to their garden tools, or on their nightstands.