Culinary programs increasingly draw attention to the origins of food—from wild source to harvesters hand, we are taken on a journey to meet the growers and explore the place of harvest.
This all serves to elevate our knowledge of produce and inspire new combinations of ingredients. But for some, it also unites a love for exploration with delights of the palate, food imbued with flavours of the land.
Here I present a selection of locations unique in produce and vista, encouraging you to ‘Savor the View’.
Botanical Bounty of Switzerland.
A paper* published earlier this year, surveyed ancestral traditions in the swiss alps. Exploring historical and present day uses throughout Lower and Central Valias, in Switzerland, researchers interviewed locals and identified a total of 98 edible wild plants, distributed into 38 botanical families. For the first time, providing a comprehensive account of the regions edible diversity, ethnopharmalogical relevance, and opportunity for diversification of mountain agriculture.
From this study we observe the cultural and culinary wisdoms of Switzerland, a destination of exceptional natural beauty. Perhaps a day on the hillside spent collecting Taraxacum official the common dandelion, to add to a salad or enjoyed as a medicinal (diuretic) and soothing (improves digestion) tea.
* J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Jan 10;151(1):624-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.022. Epub 2013 Nov 20.
Natural Resources of New Zealand.
Foodie’s delight in the lush wilderness of New Zealand, where edible bounty and magical scenery are found in abundance. Johanna Knox, author of ‘A Forager’s Treasury’ (Allen & Unwin, 2013), offers one of the best resources for identifying plants and other wild foods in NZ, via her blog at: http://foragerstreasury.blogspot.co.nz.
Inspired by ‘A Forger’s Treasury’, we embrace the rich natural resources of this epic land. Perhaps a coastline stroll, gathering Rimurapa or Bull kelp (common to the cool waters south of Cook Strait) to blanche in boiling water and enjoy with fresh fish.
Edible Greens of Greece.
Mediterranean cuisine is synonymous with fresh, local produce and the countryside of Greece, is filled with flavoursome plants perfect for the picking. TV Chef Diane Kochilas, offers a glossary of edible wild greens on her website at: www.dianekochilas.com.
Peppery plants, savoury herbs, flavoursome flowers, leaves and bulbs, have been harvested from the hills by locals for centuries. Perhaps, an afternoon exploring the countryside foraging for wild fennel, which adds a lovely crunch to fresh salads. Or for a challenge, scour the rocky coasts in search of the elusive White upright mignonette (Reseda alba) a rare green, which makes a good filling for savoury pies.
Wild Mushrooms of Monterey Bay.
The oak-studded fields and damp forests of Monterey Bay boast fertile soils rich with wild mushrooms. A fungi feast for foragers hunting hidden gems in the depths of the forest—discovery being half the fun.
Devotees of this nutrient-dense, plant-food, culminate at the Big Sur Lodge in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park every February for the Big Sur Chanterelle Festival and Cook-Off. When colorful characters and their chanterelles gather with gusto to swop recipes and share their passion and knowledge of mushrooms.
Grab a wicker basket and warm jacket, and with your field guide head-out into the forest for some fungi hunting fun! Be bold with your bounty adding mushrooms to more than just soups and salads.
Try some of the recipes at: http://ediblemontereybay.com/online-magazine/winter-2011/winter-foraging/
Be careful what you cook, checkout this foraging guide: http://www.foragingguide.com
Desert Foods of Downunder.
Australia’s native bushfoods are enjoying a revival through modern cuisine, offering nutty and astringent qualities to savoury and sweet dishes alike. Growing under the arid skies of the outback, spiny, spiky, and peculiar plants, wild nuts and strange fruits, indigenous to the ancient landscape. The deep reds of this rocky outpost attract numerous tourists mesmerised by the dreamtime setting, but for intrepid foodies it is our wild foods which allure.
Go walkabout with the locals looking for Tanami Apple, a robust and spectacular member of the Bush Tomato family, native to the central and western deserts of Australia. Favoured by the indigenous people, who halve the fruit and dry it on a stick as a convenient travel food. It is said to taste similar to a melon or zucchini.
Expand your culinary repertoire and explore the ‘Native Tastes of Australia’ at: http://tasteaustralia.biz