The Killer App from the Wildman
Wildman Steve Brill has given us some of the best foraging guidebooks around. Now, the New York City foraging guru, and author of forager essential, Identifying and Harvest Edible and Medicinal Plants in the Wild (and Not So Wild) Places is going high-tech.
In what could be the killer app of mobile technology, the Wildman had developed “The Master Foraging Apps,” available in I-tunes. You can go a la carte — for $2.99, for instance, you can get Steve’s edible shrubs guide — or you can get the complete Wild Edibles series for $7.99.
It’s a user-friendly, hand-held tool — complete with illustrations and text — to aid in the search for fiddlehead ferns and pawpaws.
The New Yorker Goes Foraging — And We Grow Envious
Earlier this week, the New Yorker ran a fascinatingly detailed travelogue investigating the surging interest in foraging. Writer Jane Kramer spent weeks traveling Europe — mushroom-hunting in England, searching for wild mint and asparagus in Umbria, scouring the beaches of Denmark for reindeer moss. Kramer went wild food hunting with a forager’s dream team — including Rene Redzepi. Reading it was painful –due to the striking pangs of jealousy.
Here’s an excerpt:
I ate reindeer moss at Noma, deep- fried, spiced with cèpes, and deliciously crisp. It was the third of twenty-three appetizers and tasting dishes I ate that night, the first being a hay parfait—a long infusion of cream and toasted hay, into which yarrow, nasturtium, camomile jelly, egg, and sorrel and camomile juice were then blended. The second arrived in a flower pot, filled with malted, roasted rye crumbs and holding shoots of raw wild vegetables, a tiny poached mousse of snail nestling in a flower, and a flatbread “branch” that was spiced with powdered oak shoots, birch, and juniper. I wish I could describe the taste of those eloquent, complex combinations, but the truth is that, like most of the dishes I tried at Noma, they tasted like everything in them and, at the same time, like nothing I had ever eaten. Four hours later, I had filled a notebook with the names of wild foods. Redzepi collected me at my table, and we sat for a while outside, on a bench near the houseboat, looking at the water and talking. I didn’t tell him that I’d passed on the little live shrimp, wriggling alone on a bed of crushed ice in a Mason jar, that had been presented to me between the rose-hip berries and the caramelized sweetbreads, plated with chanterelles and a grilled salad purée composed of spinach, wild herbs (pre-wilted in butter and herb tea), Swiss chard, celery, ground elder, Spanish chervil, chickweed, and goosefoot, and served with a morel-and-juniper-wood broth. I told him that it was the best meal I had ever eaten, and it was.
The whole piece “The Food At Our Feet” is readable on the New Yorker’s site. One takeaway note for Anglophile foragers: Get The New Oxford Book of Food Plants.