Thursday, May 26, 2011

Teresa Marrone, Abundantly Wild

Teresa Marrone, Abundantly Wild: Collecting and Cooking Wild Edibles in the Upper Midwest. This book had me eating all the weeds in my garden immediately. I was excited to find out that violet leaves as well as the flowers are delicious in salads, since this year violets are half of my lawn (not to mention my lettuce patch). I also tried burdock root, which tasted like a watery Jerusalem artichoke - definitely not worth the effort of digging two feet deep in clay. Pig's ear and plantain (the low broad-leaf weed, not the banana relative) are two more weeds I won't bother to pick out of the spinach patch. I also recognized quite a few wild berries or fruits that I will try later this season. (Don't fear for the health of my family, they won't even try wild raspberries, so all risk of accidental ingestion and poison ivy contact is mine alone). Recipes are included, but I generally just ate my experiments raw. As a guide this could be very useful, with pictures of leaves, fruits and flowers, detailed descriptions of dangerous lookalikes, and information about season and habitat. I wouldn't be comfortable eating a plant I wasn't already able to identify, though, so the information on which plants are edible is more useful than the identification guide. More than for its utility, I enjoyed this guide for the chatty tone and the author's infatuation with all things growing. She often exhorts to take just one leaf(!) from a plant, or describes the odd places that she has found specimens. This book perfectly fulfills the function of a wildlife guide in that it opens your eyes to the world around you and leaves you itching to get outside.

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