Cookbooks: Forage, Harvest, Feast

September 25, 2018

I don’t spend a whole lot of my life thinking about foraging food. Growing up in Oregon, I was always happy to pick blackberries from feral bushes, and gather windfall apples from unloved trees, but since moving to Philadelphia 16 years ago, the idea of gathering wild food hasn’t really been part of my world view. Part of it is location. I live in the very heart of downtown Philly. There’s barely an inch of ground in and around my neighborhood that isn’t sculpted or spoken for. And so I stopped looking.

With her new book, Forage, Harvest, Feast, Marie Viljoen has made me open my eyes. She lives in Brooklyn and does her foraging in and around New York City. Location is no excuse for being blind to the wild foods that grows around me and I’m feeling inspired and excited to be more aware of what can be found around my city.

Organized by the ingredient, this new volume is an hugely comprehensive look at cooking wild foods. Each section begins with a short introduction to the ingredient, information on how to collect and prepare it, and any safety issues you need to keep in mind. Then come the recipes.

There are so many thoughtful, interesting recipes in these pages and they run the full range of edible possibilities. Everything from breakfast burritos, baked goods, ferments, preserves, main dishes, salads, soups, and more. A winter with this volume and you’ll be signing up for all your local foraging classes come spring, simply for a chance to try your hand at some of the things this book has to offer.

I’m particularly excited by the various infusions, cordials, salts, and liqueurs featured in this book. We all know that creating flavorful seasonings are both a good way to stretch precious ingredients and add easy interest to your weeknight cooking. The idea of creating them from wild ingredients feels even more magical.

If you’re someone who already scans the landscape for wild edibles or you long to become someone who does, you should treat yourself to a copy of this book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book at no cost to me. No additional payment was received and everything written here are my own thoughts and words.

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