Euell Gibbons, known to many of us as that fellow who shilled Grape Nuts cereal in the seventies, was one of the earliest proponents of the wild food movement and an avid outdoorsman who popularized the living off the land movement in a time when people were freaking out over TANG orange crystals and marveling at the convenience of instant mashed potatoes. His seminal book, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, published in 1962 is still considered by many to be the bible in the canon of wild and natural foods literature.
Euell died in 1975, but his legacy has continued to grow, spread by foodies and adventurists ever since, and writers and chefs like Hank Shaw, Tama Matsuoka Wong and Daniel Bouloud, Daniel Patterson and more have been heavily influenced by his work and carry on the mission.
Nowadays it is common-even trendy- to go on foraging adventures, gently walking through forests and bogs and fields in search of uncommon and overlooked plants to add variety and excitement to an otherwise increasingly generic diet, accruing an awareness of nature’s bounty, introducing fresh, wild and unprocessed healthy foods to regional cuisine while at the same time learning to respect the land and its edible-and most often delicious-diversity.
If there is one thing Canadians are blessed with, it’s an abundance of forest, fields, rivers lakes and coastline, all offering an incredible assortment of riches.
Websites like http://northernbushcraft.com/ are only a click away, and highlight edible berries, plants and mushrooms in all our provinces and territories.
Once you have gathered all these bundles of nettles, you may be at a loss as to how to prepare them. Fortunately there is a wealth of ideas out there, and this recipe from hunter/angler/gardener/cook Hank Shaw is a great way to serve them up with style.
If you are still unconvinced of the joys of foraging and collecting, definitely come by the Brickworks on August 12 for a foraging tour and dinner with Tama Matsuoka Wong, she is the forager for Daniel Bouloud’s restaurant, Daniel NYC, and the author of Foraged Flavour. To experience this dinner that celebrates foraged ingredients and the marriage between wild and refined, purchase tickets here.