Poisonous Plants at Table
The idea for this book came full-blown when I stumbled onto the Reverend Professor G. Henslow’s odd, though quite in earnest, Poisonous Plants In Field and Garden, published in 1901. In his guide for Christian educators, the Rev. Professor’s detailed botanic descriptions stood in sharp contrast to his offhand style in ending each entry by cheerfully passing on hearsay and gossip as pertinent advice. I was struck by the deadpan language, the reflection of a more innocent time, when poisonous plants were considered a potential danger lurking in nature. My plan was to turn this Victorian sensibility on its head by serving danger at table, in four seasonal feasts.
I knew from the start that my friend and colleague Audrey Niffenegger was just the person to illustrate my deadly menus. Realizing the need for a human element, Audrey generously offered an illustrated short story. Thus was born Prudence Featherwight, the cautionary tale of a picky eater, and the very persuasive Deadgustation Society.
Designed as a field guide, Poisonous Plants at Table is really three books in one, incorporating illustrated selections from Henslow, the set of four tongue-in-cheek seasonal party menus, each dish including a poisonous plant with a cross-reference to Henslow, and the illustrated story of Prudence. Edition of 75.
This limited edition binding was designed and produced for Sherwin Beach Press. Published in 2006.