LISA NEWMAN: FOR THE LOVE OF APRICOTS & SANTA CLARA VALLEY

Lisa Newman is a city planner and the author of For The Love of Apricots: Recipes and Memories of Santa Clara County. The book is peppered with essays and original recipes featuring what else but apricots. 

Newman grew up in Saratoga in what was then known as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” that was filled with orchards, fruit trees and fruit stands. She shares how she rode on horses on narrow streets and highway 101 had traffic lights. Santa Clara valley was famous as one of the largest fruit producing regions of the world. Today, we know this area as Silicon Valley that is famous for its hi-tech industry. And as as Newman puts it you can’t find Silicon Valley on a map. And today there is just one fruit farm in her old home town of Saratoga – Novokovich Farm. 

During the 1970s Newman witnessed the transition of Santa Clara Valley to Silicon Valley but was unaware of it while she was in the midst of it. In the 1970s fruit orchards made way for homes and office buildings and gave birth to Silicon Valley. Turns out that a few prominent tech entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple or the founders of Hewlett Packard did not forget the fruit orchards and fruit trees of this region. Jobs  “had a deep, deep fondness for apricots,” says Newman. And when Jobs was planning Apple’s new campus in Cupertino “he made sure apricot orchards were included,” she adds. One of the large remaining orchards in this region is owned by the Packard Foundation in Los Altos says Newman.

And, it is that transition and her memories of growing up in the verdant Santa Clara valley that Newman has captured in her book. Newman shares how apricots arrived in Santa Clara Valley and the prominent role it played in the region’s economy.

For The Love of Apricots: Recipes and Memories of Santa Clara County is a fond homage to Newman’s mother, who was a wonderful cook. She inherited her mother’s love for cooking, especially cooking with apricots. What makes the book very different are the original recipes Newman developed in her kitchen with the star ingredient – apricots. Newman tested the recipes in her kitchen for a few years before they made it into this unique cookbook. 

The book also pays homage to the fading, but enduring heritage of Santa Clara Valley.  The book is also a “celebration of enduring farmers” who have held on to their farms right in “the middle of Silicon Valley,” she shares.

This interview with Newman is part of our series with authors, musicians and artists.

This interview aired on TV in the US.

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