For­age, Har­vest, Feast: A Wildin­spired Cui­sine

Marie Viljoen

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction -

Chelsea Green Pub­lish­ing (AU­GUST) Hard­cover $40 (480pp), 978-1-60358-750-1

The re­newed in­ter­est in for­ag­ing wild foods has in­spired many new cook­books, but none is as com­pre­hen­sive as Marie Viljoen’s For­age, Har­vest, Feast. Viljoen is a writer and wild foods evan­ge­list who packs nearly five hun­dred recipes for thirty-six wild plants into her well-il­lus­trated, play­fully writ­ten book.

The em­pha­sis is on plants that can be sus­tain­ably har­vested or which have po­ten­tial for com­mer­cial grow­ing, such as lamb’s quar­ters, ser­vice­ber­ries, and net­tles. Gar­den­ers will be dou­bly de­lighted to learn how to trans­form tra­di­tional weeds and in­va­sive plants into tempt­ing dishes. How soul-sat­is­fy­ing to turn the chore of weed­ing out de­struc­tive gar­lic mus­tard and pesky purslane into har­vest­ing for pesto or a re­fresh­ing gaz­pa­cho.

While the au­thor stresses that her cook­book should be sup­ple­mented by field guides and other plant iden­ti­fi­ca­tion re­sources, she does in­clude in­for­ma­tion about when plants are ready to har­vest, botan­i­cal history and lore, and point­ers for home and small-scale cul­ti­va­tion.

Ex­ten­sive chap­ter and recipe in­tro­duc­tions are well re­searched and fun to read. The au­thor re­lates her own ex­pe­ri­ences and ex­per­i­ments, in­vok­ing many a hu­mor­ous phrase along the way, as when she wisely ad­vises cooks to care­fully pit stone fruit “if you are wor­ried about tooth law­suits” and rhap­sodizes about a Cu­cum­ber and Green Prickly Ash Salad that is “a smooth, crisp, sweet-and-sour fla­vor bomb.”

Recipes range from clas­sics like Elder­berry Syrup to boldly fla­vored con­coc­tions like Bay­berry Back Ribs and Poke­weed with An­chovy But­ter. A smat­ter­ing of so­phis­ti­cated cock­tails round things out, in­clud­ing Black Ice (fir vodka, black choke­berry syrup, and ver­mouth) and milk­weed-based cock­tails like Mi­gra­tion and The Monarch.

For­age would be a great ad­di­tion to the shelves of any out­doors en­thu­si­ast, small farmer, gar­dener, or ad­ven­tur­ous cook. RACHEL JAGARESKI

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