By Mary Reilly | Photographs by Pascal Baudar
I grew up on Euell Gibbons’ classic book Stalking the Wild Asparagus . Gibbons’ gentle words and guidance helped me get over my fear of foraging. Pascal Baudar’s The New Wildcrafted Cuisineis the Stalking of the 21st century. Baudar is a forager and instructor based in Southern California, and while his book will make New Englanders long for his sunnier skies, there is much in here for our climate too. The book is laid out seasonally, so you can start now with fall and work your way through the year.
Baudar walks us through many uses for acorns and acorn flour, and his photographs illustrate Carly Leusner’s appreciation of the acorn on page 16, Satisfied by the Forest . But beyond acorns, there is much more to forage in our forests and fields. If you’re new to foraging and have a little anxiety about what to pick and what to do with it, Baudar will have you making spice mixes and compound butters to jazz up your cooking. (I have a batch of wild kimchi spice in the dehydrator as I write this.) There are many pictures of the raw ingredients and of plants in their natural habitats to ensure you’re picking the right things.
He talks the more adventurous of us through techniques for wild ferments like vinegars, beers, and wines. Sport fishermen might explore making garum, the ancient recipe that is the precursor to the fish sauce most of us have in our pantries.
Unlike most foraging books I’ve read, The New Wildcrafted Cuisinedoes not shy away from one major protein source available to us: insects. Baudar explains how to prepare and cook ants, grubs, crickets, and snails. I’ll confess that I’m not quite there––I have a first-world squeamishness that I haven’t gotten over. Yet. When I finally take the plunge, I know where I’ll turn for guidance.
The New Wildcrafted Cuisine by Pascal Baudar. Copyright © 2016. Chelsea Green Publishing.
Check out our foraging articles from the Fall 2016 issue with tips for foraging and grinding acorns and more acorn recipes like Carly Leusner’s acorn-potato flatbread.