Many months ago (too many, I think) I received a copy of this book to review. Foraged Flavor by Tama Matsuoka Wong with Eddy Leroux by Potter that came out last August, 2012.
First things first. I love knitting, and if you are a knitter you also probably enjoy “looking” at yarn with your hands. When I get in a yarn store, I’m touching all those beautiful skeins laid all very organized… so when I got the book, I love how it felt in my hands. The perfect size. It fits in most of my bags without being cumbersome, and the cover, I love. The photos, the font, but mostly that book spine, the perfect green with the cloth for the spine. I love how it feels.
At first I wasn’t really attracted to the content, because, being a visual person, I felt it didn’t have a lot of color and pictures, for a cookbook or a ‘field guide’ of sorts. Maybe that’s why it was left in the pile of books for later. Also, I think it was that I was in the swing of things, and cooking and preserving when I received the book and felt I didn’t have time to learn and go out in the wild to get some wild plants, with everything else happening in the fall for us.
Now, with a fresh eyes, I found the book, and I sat down and looked and read through it some more, and have really enjoyed it. It says “Finding fabulous ingredients in your backyard or farmer’s market.” It’s true! So much we can find out there. We did a little bit of foraging last spring, and we all really enjoyed it. The getting out there to harvest, and also the eating of what we found.
I really like that it’s divided by seasons. It makes it easy, for us non-experts, to start with what we can find now.
The drawings throughout the book are simple but detailed, and very lovely. I really enjoyed the layout. I am looking forward to a few more weeks getting out there to find what we learned to identified last year, and get some new plants to try and identified.
Look at the drawings… they are so pretty. They have a drawing and a colored photo of each featured plant, which really helps for when you are out there.
I like it that they focus on just a few plants, so it’s not a field guide per se. It’s perfect to get to know a few wild plants, and try some recipes at home.
Tama Matsuoka Wong writes in the introduction:
When I am walking a wooded path on an early spring morning, the ground carpeted with wildflowers, I smell the dew and moist earth beneath me. On a summer evening, dusk falling, the breeze in my hair also bends the tall, vibrantly colored meadow wildflowers, and all else falls away.
She stopped doing financial services work, her day job when she was learning about wild plants and foraging, to do this full time now. She brings wild plants to Eddy Leroux, the chef at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant in New York, to create new plates with them.
Though I have not gone out and harvested any wild plants, I haven’t made this Sheep Sorrel Risotto, but it sounds really good.
These will be the first recipes to try when we get out there, as soon as our wild walking feet get ready. We are almost running out of stinging nettle, but are still enjoying the last of the frozen batch I use in some of the soups and egg dishes. And have a bit dried nettle left that we are enjoying in teas, hoping to keep us a little healthier.
There is so much to learn out there for me. Out in the woods, as well as at home when we have the plants. And I’m hoping this book will help me try few plants we find here in Oregon, and use them in meals we all enjoy.
I like the descriptions she gives in the book, one page per plant. It’s not very “field guide-y” but perfect to help you identify them. I also have enjoyed reading about how she’s learned about wild foods, and how she’s worked together with Eddy in trying new dishes. Very personable and you get a sense of how and why they’ve come up with the seasonal dishes.
If you are interested in wild plants, you should check out this book and see what you think. Also, let me know what recipe you’ve tried! I’m looking forward to some new flavors this spring.