I like to think that I am pretty adventurous in the kitchen. But the truth is, there are plenty of fruits and especially vegetables I don’t have a clue about. So who might introduce me to these exotic treats? Melissa’s Great Book of Produce. Melissa’s is the largest distributor of speciality produce in the US. Based in Los Angeles they have been selling exotic fresh fruits and vegetables from around the world since 1984. Looking for cherimoyas? Dragon fruit? Rambutan? Sea beans? Jujubes? Thai eggplant? It’s all available either in stores or online from Melissa’s.

Melissa’s Great Book of Produce is part cookbook and part reference book, and also a seasonal availability guide. It includes descriptions with photos, and advice on buying and storing, prep, use, nutritional info and serving suggestions along with a recipe per fruit or vegetable. While it may not actually include every fruit and vegetable out there, it does a great job with the more exotic ones.

I have to admit, I haven’t cooked out of this book yet, but I have used it quite a bit. I found it helpful when experimenting with bitter melon for the first time and when trying to figure out how to use lemon grass in a custard sauce. I also used it to identify some Asian greens. Having this book emboldens me to purchase produce I’m not so sure about, because I know when I get home I’ll be able to figure out what to do with it. It’s also great for finding more uses for some of the exotic ingredients I already have on hand.

Melissa’s Great Book of Produce 15 August,2007Amy Sherman


Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her
friends and family were constantly asking her where
and what to eat. Three months after it launched,
Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the
top five best food blogs, praising her writing as
“smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been
featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and
magazines in the U.S. and the world.

In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a
guest contributor to the Epicurious.com blog, and
Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes
restaurant reviews for SF Station.

Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook
reviews along with some interviews and current events.

Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer.
She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine.

She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.

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