We’ve used a number of books over the years to help us forage wild foods, but found one of the best only recently. Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi, illustrated by the amazing Wendy Hollender, will enable you to actually cook with the many abundant, common wild foods hiding in plain sight, or available at your farmer’s market, from nettle, lemon balm, and lamb’s quarter to burdock, black raspberry and violet. Although we don’t forage much these days, we BUY many of the wild foods featured in Foraging & Feasting at our local farmer’s market and love knowing more about them.
Unlike most of the illustrations we’ve seen of plants, Wendy Hollender’s superb renderings are truly usable for identification in the field: showing all of a plant’s parts —and which are edible— in a kind of artful 3-D. Here’s an example for two common wild foods (you can buy these as limited edition prints here), from Violet toDandelion.
Dina Falconi’s Master recipes in the Kitchen Arts Section give the essential info you need to improvise recipes your own, with both wild OR cultivated plants. Thousands of recipe variations arise from the master recipes. Many cater to various dietary restrictions: gluten-free, casein-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and sugar-free. We’re hungry for Herbal Essence Waters, Therapeutic Spirits, Flower and Herb Butters, Herbal Fruit Ice Cream, Wild Greens with Beans Soup…
We dove immediately into Beverages, intrigued by the Agua Frescas Master Recipe that Falconi shows in the video below (video link here). Once we got the simple gist, we realized we could easily whip up Wild Black Raspberry or Peach Nectar, or Blueberry Anise Hyssop Aqua Fresca. They are the perfect summer cocktail with or without alcohol (we’d strain them to make for a smoother essence…)
Falconi builds her instructions gradually so you start with (and understand) the simplest bases and work into many possible flavorings.
The other things we LOVE and admire about Foraging & Feasting is that it was independently published by Botanical Arts Press. They’ve done a better job than many traditional publishers, from the binding to the careful editing and organization. Read more and look inside the book, here.