Baby corn? Seedless watermelons? Purple potatoes? Who’d eat that?
Frieda Caplan was the plucky produce promoter who mainstreamed much of the world’s delicacies and innovative hybrids into the American kitchen. Starting her own eponymous company—Frieda’s—in 1962, she ensured that her reputation was made in what was then an all-male wholesale produce business. Almost nothing was too far-out for Frieda; after all, spaghetti squash was just one more recipe card in search of a convert. However, even Frieda was stumped with the Chinese gooseberry—but sales took off after she renamed it a kiwi. Anyone who bites into a crunchy jicama or a fiery habanero purchased from a supermarket can thank the adventurous taste buds of this pioneering greengrocer. Rockliff’s snappy sentences and rollicking alliteration make this a fun read-aloud: “Farmers dug for tips on what to grow. Cooks peppered her with questions”; “mounds of mongosteen, heaps of jicama, and quantities of quince.” Potter’s signature flat palette gives way to bright purples, brilliant reds, and crisp greens. The retro illustrations follow Frieda from her entry into a marketplace filled with “boxes of bananas. Piles of potatoes. Truckloads of tomatoes” to a consumer wonderland filled with boxes of donut peaches and cherimoyas. Frieda, a Jewish Angeleno, presents White; people of color appear as both fellow wholesalers and customers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)
A delectable delight daring readers to embrace the 80,000 species of Earth’s edible plants.(author's note; bibliography) (Informational picture book. 5-10)