While you may not have thought about eating the landscape, I’m currently obsessed by the idea for two reasons.
Eating the Cultivated Landscape
First, I’ve been eating all my life, and I don’t just love food, I love the rituals around it, from planting peas when there’s still snow on the ground to blessing wine in the dark of the year, and always, always, gathering family and friends around the table to break bread, socialize, and nourish ourselves in body and soul.
I’ve been cultivating an edible landscape since Tim and I planted our first garden on the afternoon of the day we closed on our first house in 1985. I’m not sure I’d ever eaten a beet as I dropped seeds like miniature popped corn into the earth on that day in early May. The following day – and still two months before we’d move in – Patrick, a piglet, took up residence in an old cellar hole at the edge of our land. Before long, hens populated the barn, rhubarb took root by the garden fence, and we didn’t just have vegetables growing in the garden; we had crops.
I learned to pickle and can. By autumn, we’d filled the chest freezer that came with the house. All winter, we ate what we’d grown. And so it’s been ever since.
Eating the Wild Landscape
The second reason I’m currently obsessed with food is because I’m getting ready to go deer hunting again. After thirty-five years of cultivating what I eat, I want to eat what grows wild, too.
I grew up harvesting food from the sea: catching flounder, digging clams, collecting mussels – and feasting. More recently, I’ve foraged for ramps, black trumpet mushrooms and wild grapes. For years, I’ve considered the black walnuts that fall from our trees food for the squirrels; this year, I’m curious enough to gather some to find out if it’s a delicacy this human would like to eat.
I’ve become curious about wild food, from the dandelion I grew up thinking were weeds rather than salad greens to the organic venison that lives in the woods.
Writing a Book
Full disclosure: This curiously is feeding a book I’ve been researching and thinking about for years and have finally started to write. I’m engrossed. So much so, that after almost five years of posting essays here every Wednesday, I’m changing it up: I’ll post when I can.
Now I want to hear from you.
Who among my readers has eaten wild food? What kind? How did you procure it?
Road kill anyone?
What about insects? Fried grasshoppers or chocolate-covered ants. No see-ums you swallow by mistake don’t count.
Snake dried or fried? I once ate rattlesnake at the Buffalo Bistro in Glendale, Utah.
Anyone eaten possum? Raccoon? Rat? Mouse?
What about wild fruit for dessert?
I’d love to hear your stories about what wild food you’ve eaten, how it was procured and prepared, how it tasted and what you thought of the experience.
I look forward to reading your stories in the comments below.
Spelling and grammar are helpful but not necessary. Civility is.