I’m joining Jain at Food for Thought, where, pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera. Books, Food & Photos, my three favorite things all in one place!
Audie Award Winner, Fiction (unabridged), 2004
“The story keeps exploding outward like a clump of cells becoming a complex plant but is never out of control; it never even strains credulity. Anna Fields’s reading is as accomplished as the storytelling; as audio experiences go, this is just about perfect.” (AudioFile)
This book is a fun read*, but I recommend you listen to it, for maximum enjoyment! (My rating is most definitely influenced by the audio performance.)
*Some may find the language in this book offensive at times.
My kind of book!… highly entertaining, clever, with lots of quirky characters. Central to the story is Yumi, daughter to Lloyd and Momoko Fuller, potato farmers. Yumi, who always felt like “a random fruit in a field of genetically identical potatoes”, runs away from home after a disastrous affair with her history teacher, at age 15. Considered a “bad seed”, Yumi tends to make poor decisions when it comes to men. Now living in Hawaii, she has three children, all with different fathers and is a tad too dependent on alcohol.
Lloyd, along with Momoko, his Japanese wife, once ran the largest potato farm in Power County, Idaho. Lloyd, in failing health, and Momoko, suffering from dementia, are still estranged from Yumi twenty-five years later. Cass Quinn, Yumi’s former childhood friend, and also the Fullers’ neighbor, intervenes on their behalf and convinces Yumi to return to Idaho.
Momoko has sustained a thriving seed business on her own during periods of Lloyd’s convalescence:
“She tended her plants, allowing them to ripen, to flower and die–only then did she down to business: shaking the seeds from their brittle pockets or teasing them wet from their flesh, drying them and sorting them, measuring and labeling them, and slipping them into envelopes for dissemination by the U.S. Postal Service to destinations around the world. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night . . . She was more reliable than the birds and the bees and with a far greater reach.”
“It was a well-known fact that squashes are among the most promiscuous of garden vegetables, and Momoko, confessed she was having a hell of a time keeping her Shanghai squash from cross-pollinating with her Mammoth Kings, and her Sweetbush from her Whangporoas. She had resorted to a fastidious regimen of hand pollination, which Lloyd learned about for the first time when he followed her into the garden at dusk to identify the flowers that would open the next morning.”
With trepidation Yumi returns, her children in tow. She introduces them…Phoenix -14, with his thin stick-brown legs, bushy black hair, sticking up in bristles; Ocean -6 1/2, a fair-haired girl with sea-blue eyes; and baby- Poo, liquid black eyes and skin the color of chocolate milk, to Lloyd:
Lloyd, (as he studies their hair, their complexions, comparing): “What kind of children have names like that?”
Ocean: “We’re Good children. That’s what kind.”
Yumi drops two of the large vegetables, one round, the other long, in front of Momoko… “What are these?”
“Momoko looked at the large, mutant squashes and shook her head. I don’t know. Then she started to giggle. ‘Uri wa iyarashii no yo.’ She picked one up and studied it, turning it over in her crooked hands. ‘Maybe is a little bit zuke, and little bit Delicata, and little bit…whatchamacallit. Sweet Pumpkin.’ She handed it back and pointed to Ocean and Phoenix, who were fixated on the screen. Like them. All mixed up.”
“The Seeds of Resistance” appear on the scene. The Seeds, a traveling group of environmentalists, arrive at the Fullers’ farm in their “Spudnik”, a Winnebago, modified to run on French Fry Oil. The Seeds having stumbled on one of the Fullers’ catalogs, believing Lloyd to be “the one they have been waiting for. A humble seedsman, but a visionary. A born leader of men. The American farmer making a lonely stand, defending his seed against the hubris and rapacious greed of the new multinational life-sciences cartel. In Idaho, no less! Mr. Potato Head’s cloning ground, his place of origin!”
As one might imagine, mayhem ensues wherever this merry band of protestors go.
“Lloyd’s home, Mom. And your daughter’s having a nervous breakdown. And there’s a caravan of hippies camping out behind the barn. Oh, and you’re a prophet for the Revolution.”
Momoko has brief periods of lucidity. Lloyd has written labels on items with index cards to help Momoko identify them. Phoenix and Ocean have taken to befuddling Momoko by rearranging signs. “The chair had turned into the CEILING. The teapot was a REFRIGERATOR.” Yumi attempts to stop this game but to no avail.
Momoko: “I gonna teach him lesson,” she said. Her voice was low, conspiratorial now. “You know that Nix? He is very bad boy. He play some tricks on me, moving all the labels. So now I trick him back. I move them first, then she think he did it.”
Yumi: “She? Who is she?”
Momoko: “His mommy. When she catch him, boy, she get plenty mad!”
The food star of this book is obviously the potato. My kryptonite. Nothing tempts me like a potato… Baked, Au Gratin, Fried, Mashed, in Chip form… If I was on death row, with one last meal, I would request potatoes prepared four different ways :-)
I’m sharing one of my favorite potato recipes, Smoky Mashed Potato Bake, that you can find Here.
I have to say, my potato photos look a little “anemic”, but this recipe tastes anything but . . . the recipe calls for 2 – 3 chipotle peppers, and 3 pack too much heat for me!
And, I always add more smoked Gouda than the recipe calls for :-)
I got such a kick out of the Promiscuity of Squashes Chapter, I wanted to include a squash recipe with my Edible Review.
Roasted Pear-Butternut Soup with Crumbled Stilton, but for the purposes of this Edible Review, we’ll call this “Promiscuous Squash Soup” :-) You can find the recipe Here. I also shared it for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum, where you can see the steps.
The Free Dictionary defines promiscuity as “a mixture of diverse or unrelated parts or individuals; a hodgepodge”, which is appropriate considering the combination of unlikely ingredients in this soup!
The combination of humor and tug-at-your-heartstrings moments in this book, makes this a great read.
“All Over Creation tells a celebratory tale of the beauty of seeds, and growing things, and the capacity for renewal that resides within us all.”
That mashed potato bake looks like something my husband will want to try. I’ll take a cup of that soup. Your review makes me want to get this book. I’ve been looking for a new audio book for trips. Thanks for the recommendation.
The kids names are great:) I like the idea of smoked gouda in the potatoes..Thanks.
oh how fun, i have never heard of this book and added it to my wish list! it looks right up my alley too~ you know what scares me most though… doing a visual on the same book after you!
kryptonite… so funny. i am not a fan at all, i run on sugar, ok lets get specific, CHOCOLATE!
my husband would love your potatoes, but pass the soup my way please, its gorgeous!
thanks for another stellar review, i think it looks like a fun read~
You have just convinced me that I shd try audio reading.. I thought i would never….another interesting review and beautiful fotos!!! and the soup looks so good that i want to have some right now!