There is little I like more in life than discovering a free-for-the-picking cache of fruit, somewhere in my neighborhood. When I was growing up, we would gather wild blackberries from a field around the corner from our house and windfall apples from a pair of gnarled apple trees planted in the parking strip. These days, I stalk wild mulberries and wineberries in the parks of Philadelphia and seek out fig trees that lean out of yards and into public areas.
If this sounds like you as well, then you must check out The Fruit Forager’s Companion by Sara Bir. This book is part memoir, part cookbook, and part journey through the always-growing, edible landscape that so often we miss in our hurry from one place to another. And if it’s not yet you, a few moments with this book and you’ll forever be scanning your neighborhood trees and shrubs for signs of pickable fruit.
The book is ordered alphabetically by kind of fruit. It starts with apples and wraps up with sumac. Each chapter is filled with stories, history, and recipes, as well as tips on harvesting, storage and culinary uses.
Truly though, the thing that makes this book special is Sara’s voice. She is a delightfully good writer, with a literary personality that is smart, funny, and none-too-precious. The following two sentences about figs on page 129 made me laugh out loud.
“Figs are nutrient-packed, offering more minerals per serving that other common fruits. They’re also high in fiber and sugar, keeping people on the move in multiple senses.”
A book that is useful, charming, and includes a tasteful poop joke? Sign me up!
If you’re looking for ways to connect with your local landscape that is both meditative and productive, let this book be your guide.