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Chez Panisse Fruit

(article, Keri Fisher)

The fabled Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse does not offer elaborate descriptions on its menus or foams and gels on its plates. In fact, the dishes at Chez Panisse are so simple, so basic, that at first you almost wonder what all the fuss is about. But then you take a bite. And you realize that, while other restaurants hope to impress with bizarre flavor combinations and newfangled techniques, Chez Panisse instead allows the ingredients to impress. Its food is served with unfussiness instead of agar agar. 

Like her restaurant, Alice Waters’ cookbooks take a similar approach to food, and none more so than Chez Panisse Fruit, a 300-page homage, dictionary, and cookbook. The book’s chapters are organized by fruit, from apples to strawberries, with stops along the way for such unusual fare as loquats, mulberries, and olallieberries. 

Each chapter offers detailed information about the fruit in addition to recipes both sweet and savory. There’s also a chapter called “A Basic Dessert Repertory,” with recipes (Crisp Topping, Biscuits, Galette Dough) that can be used with almost any fruit. 


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You’ll learn that the pineapple’s indigenous South American name, ananas (also its official botanical generic name) means “fragrant excellent fruit;” that grapefruits have an affinity for sparkling wines (at Chez Panisse they serve grapefruit sherbet in a glass of Champagne as an aperitif); and that loganberries were so named in 1881 after Judge Logan accidentally crossed raspberries and blackberries in his backyard. 

But most importantly, you’ll learn how to serve fruit so as to best maximize its natural attributes: flavor, texture, color. In short, you’ll learn how to approach fruit, and food in general, the way they do at Chez Panisse.

p(bio). Cookbook author Keri Fisher (One Cake, One Hundred Desserts) has written for Saveur, Gastronomica, and Cook's Illustrated. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and two sons.

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