I have had posts on this topic at various times over the years but I don’t think I’ve ever done one in the fall. Mostly I do them in the spring, or I’ll do a series on weeds, or lawn weeds, or perhaps even weeds that have some edible or useful properties.
But suddenly a variety of chefs and cookbooks are springing up that rely on–gasp–foraging! I’m fairly sure I did a post on the woman who is, or used to be a bond trader in New York who wrote a cookbook on foraging and who supplies all the trendy New York restaurants (that almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? It almost sounds like a cliché–bond trader becomes trendy forager, writes cookbook for star chefs? Oh puhleez! if it were that simple, why didn’t we all think of it instead of writing these silly blog posts year after year? Sigh)
But here’s yet another story about a woman supplying the restaurants in Kansas City (and the story references back to that other NYC story so I know I didn’t just make it up! And my mistake–she wasn’t a trader; she was a lawyer. Sort of the same difference when it comes to getting out of one career and finding a new one in the weeds if you ask me. And I should know!) with “weeds” like chicory, “anise hyssop” (the story mentions that–I wouldn’t call it a weed but there you have it!) and dandelion blossoms.
Perhaps they have less adventurous tastes out in the Midwest at the moment. That’s fine. We all have to start somewhere. And I’m so delighted that chefs, once again, are at the forefront of the experimentation and that we gardeners are presenting them with lots of things to try.
So how about it gardeners? Why not lay off the last fall feeding of conventional fertilizer and let the lawn go organic for a change? Then in the spring, rather than “freak out” when a weed or two appears, try identifying it first (always, always always know what you are eating before you do so!) and if you can positively identify it as safe to eat, experiment!
There are lots of web sites and even some cookbooks now that talk about cooking with wild and foraged plants. Think about it–this could be the easiest garden you ever grow. Give it a try.