|Sautéeing bracken and ostrich fern fiddleheads|
I spend a lot of time flipping through books on wild foods, like those by Sam Thayer and Teresa Marrone (linked at right under "Bide-A-Wee Friends and Neighbors"), and I'm constantly amazed to see how little of the surface of wild foods I have even scratched. I don't think of myself as an expert, at all; rather, in this area, as in many things that I enjoy, I prefer to remain the happy amateur, noting that amateur comes from the Latin "to love."
But you do, you know, if you stick with something, come to know a thing or two, and so here's a list of the wild food plants I've cooked with, just running them off the top of my head:
Hen of the woods mushrooms
Sulfur shelf mushrooms
Boletus variety mushrooms
Black cap raspberries
And I've probably forgotten a few. My point here is that I never set out upon a concerted study of wild foods, never have devoted myself to eating them exclusively or primarily--though this year I've been making more of a point of it. I pick up a new wild food item or two each year, and I learn by going where I have to go, as Theodore Roethke put it, so compellingly, in his poem "The Waking."
I am sure that the wild foods trend will ebb down in time; I am just as certain that as it does so it will leave behind, like bright baubles of beach glass on a sandy shore, a few devoted souls who became caught up in it, for whatever reason, and who found in it that compelling something that will have them heading out to the woods again, year after year, and they'll take someone with them, and if it's the right someone, that right someone will lead another newcomer into a woods full of ramps or chanterelles, a blackberry patch or a plum grove, and a lovely and sustaining tradition will endure.
Furthermore, I would say: See Patrick's comment on the previous post. He boils a lot of my thinking down far more succinctly than I've been able to do.
|Bide-A-Wee Chop Suey: wild asparagus, ramps, bracken and ostrich fern, morels|
I've been working pretty intensely on the cookbook for a good few months now. The end is really and truly in sight: one more read-through of the proof-read page proofs, then it's off to the printer and nothing more to be done. (You can place an advance order alreadly at Amazon, by the way.) Having spent so much time poring back and forth over what is basically the content of this blog, I'm feeling, for the moment, that anything I put up here is something of a rehash--you might have noticed that I was citing myself in the previous post, which, while amusing in some ways, I do not think is an awfully good sign, over all. Therefore, so as not to become tedious, I'm taking a couple of weeks off, with every expectation that I will return refreshed. We've been eating well here, and coming up with interesting preparations of the swell foods of the season, from woods, stream, market, and garden. I just haven't been able to find interesting ways to write about it.
So happy June; eat well, have fun. Thanks, all. Back soon.
Text and photos copyright 2011 by Brett Laidlaw