FORAGING WILD FOODS AND EDIBLE PLANTS
HOW TO FORAGE, IDENTIFY AND PREPARE FOR EATING
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
(Clarkson Potter) ISBN 978-0307956613 030795661X
This wild plants field guide helps you forage and identify 71 edible plants in parks, backyards and forests. You can then prepare this free wild food to eat with 88 recipes from Chef Eddy Leroux at New York City's Daniel restaurant.
Botanical illustrations and color photos help you with foraging wild edibles during each season. Eddy Leroux's recipes use the foraged flowers, leaves, sprouts, stems and fruit in appetizers, salads, soups, main courses, desserts, drinks and preserves.
Organized by season, the chapters provide instructions for summer, fall, winter and spring foraging. In the introduction to Foraged Flavor, Tama Wong helps you identify food from the wild by leaf shape, arrangement, texture and edges, as well as by flower shape and aroma.
Guidelines for sustainable foraging help you identify which invasive plants and edible weeds can be freely harvested, e.g., garlic mustard and wisteria, compared to which edible plants you should harvest less than 20 per cent, e.g., beach plums.
How to identify plants you can eat
For each foraged plant, Tama Wong also notes its scientific name, where it grows in the USA and Canada, as well as how to identify and harvest it. For example, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), which grows in forests, has heart-shaped leaves with a garlicky aroma when crushed.
The cooked leaves of young amaranth plants (Amaranthus hybridus) taste like mild mustard. Amaranthus retroflexus has a reddish root, making identification easier.
The index to each chapter of Foraged Flavor lists the wild foods found in each season and recipes made with them. For example, the spring foraging chapter lists bee balm spring rolls with lettuce and dipping sauce that you can make with bee balm (Monarda didyma).
Wild food recipes
Tama Wong introduces recipes with descriptions of how wild plants add taste and texture to each dish. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which tastes like celery and mint, loses its ability to sting after it is fully dried or cooked for eating.
She also explains how Eddy Leroux cooks the foraged plant, e.g., grilling, frying, poaching and boiling orange daylily shoots, which taste like a cross between French beans and leeks.
Measurements for each wild ingredient are by weight and volume. For example, the garlic mustard eggplant dip recipe uses two cups or 1.5 ounces of garlic mustard leaves.
Foraged Flavor uses different parts of edible plants in its recipes—dandelion flower jelly, white pine needle oil, spaghetti with braised dock leaves and bacon, caramelized braised endive with juniper berries, pickled cattail shoots and wild carrot seeds from Queen Anne's lace.
This guide to food in the wild contains more tasty recipes than you would find in a wilderness survival food guide. The forager's cookbook includes recipes for an appetizer of amaranth and feta phyllo triangles and a carrot salad with wild carrot fruits and pickled ginger.
Eating wild foods
After foraging for food, you can make main courses like daylilies stuffed with lobster, avocado and sushi rice, as well as desserts like white chocolate elderflower lace and wild raisin (Viburnum prunifolium) crème brûlée.
Foraged Flavor also includes easy recipes for drinks (wild mint green tea with toasted pine nuts), preserves (knotweed, ginger and lemon jam) and snacks (artemisia rice crisps and nettle and asparagus pizza).
You can even learn how to make your own dried sumac spice from Rhus spp. berry clusters to make the Middle Eastern spice, za'atar, which flavors fried chicken in the foraging cookbook.
Although there are no photos of recipes in Foraged Flavor, 53 color photos by Thomas Schauer depict wild plants. In addition, 52 botanical illustrations also help you forage for food in the wild.
In the Field
- Early Spring
- Autumn & Winter
Tama Matsuoka Wong is the forager for Daniel Boulud's NYC restaurant, Daniel. Eddy Leroux is Daniel restaurant's chef de cuisine.