Botany, ballet


Pub Date: June 2008; Second Edition September 2016

Author: Leda Meredith

botany, ballet

The new, updated edition of Leda Meredith’s first book, a classic local food memoir, is here—with original recipes and color photographs. Leda remains deeply connected to nature, including the sources of her food, while living in New York City. She demonstrates the joys and travails of preserving food in jars that were stored for months beneath her bed—or foraging for edible plants in city parks. Her journey goes beyond New York City to include old-world family vignettes and recipes, as well as glimpses into other cultures she visited as a ballet dancer on tour and as a botanist. Always personal, with dry wit that does not wax “preachy,” she explores the personal, social, and ecological aspects of botany and eating locally-grown food.


“Personal, visceral, intimate, natural and authentic. All these words describe Leda’s book. You can literally taste melancholy in one dish and joy in another. Food is nothing without context, both the context of the environment in which they are sourced and also where they fit in our memories. This lexicon of memories interwoven with cherished recipes immerses you in an enchanted story-land where you can peek into the world of art and ballet, off-the-beaten-path travel, as well as secret gardens and heartbreak. Leda’s life is as rich and textured as her recipes. Although her stories are most likely exotic and far from many people’s common experiences, there’s something deeply identifiable and familiar, too. The longing to be free and in nature, and to be sustainable and be able to cook and preserve in a modern world resonates.”

—Mia Wasilevich, author, educator, chef, food photographer and stylist


“What a delicious read! This book is such a beautiful blend of both familiar and unusual recipes, fascinating facts, and the poignant but impressive story of a multi-talented dancer’s life. I loved it.”

—Cynthia Gregory, Prima Ballerina


“In this engaging memoir filled with mouth-watering recipes, Leda Meredith recounts a lifetime of urban foraging adventures. Begun in early childhood harvesting horta in San Francisco with her Greek great-grandmother, Meredith’s foraging ways bring continuity and meaning to her life’s twists and turns, as she repeatedly finds healing in food and her connections to it. This is a book sure to inspire readers to find pleasure in what is close at hand.”

—Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America’s Underground Food Movements and Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-culture Foods


“Many people tout the benefits of eating locally. Leda Meredith lives them. Part memoir, part travelogue, part recipe book, Botany, Ballet, and Dinner from Scratch combines Meredith’s passion for dance, foraging, gardening, cooking, and writing into an appetizing brew. The recipes and stories are to be savored, the garden and kitchen wisdom to be used.”

—Jennie Schacht, author of Farmers’ Market Desserts, and I Scream Sandwich! and co-author of Without Reservations and The Wine Lover’s Dessert Cookbook