In Taste, Memory, which was recently named one of Amazon.com’s top ten food literature books of 2012, author David Buchanan takes readers on a stroll through orchards and gardens around the country to find rare crops carefully saved over the years for their exceptional flavors.
David collects heirloom crop plants, but doesn’t just preserve them in some kind of garden-museum. He grows these strange fruits and vegetables, eats them, and sells them at markets in Maine so that others will be introduced to the peculiar deliciousness of a Waldoboro Greenneck Rutabaga, or the luscious tang of cider made from Harrison apples.
Food is alive, and only if more people eat these foods and grow to love them, can they return to our gardens and farms, and thus remain part of our cultural legacy. In the excerpt below, Buchanan tells the story of finding a very large, very old apple tree on the site of a long-abandoned homestead in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He returns in the early spring to take scions from the ancient tree, which has stopped bearing fruit, in hopes of reviving whatever unique taste its apples must have had in order for it to survive through the centuries.
To hear more about David Buchanan’s work, and his journey with rare foods, listen to this extended interview on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.