I got an email yesterday from a local organization that is hosting a fundraising dinner in mid-October. The chef they’re bringing in wanted “wild-foraged greens” on the menu. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Wild. Foraged. Local. etc …
In mid-October in Yellowstone?!
Look, chef types, if you’re going to go all wild-and-local at least pay some slight attention to where you are. Yellowstone in October will, in most normal years, have experienced it’s first snows. And wild greens? wild greens are a spring food. Read Patience Grey. Or even Euell Gibbons (whose books still hold up). By October most “wild greens” are now six-foot tall thistles. By October whatever “wild greens” once existed in Yellowstone have been eaten by elk, deer, or bears who are trying to cram as many calories down their throats as they can so they survive the winter. While “wild-foraged greens” sound like a trendy thing to put on your menu is no excuse for not doing your homework and paying attention to the natural world you’re so busy trying to convince us you’re attuned to.
I hate this. I am a firm believer in local food. I believe, and even mostly eat seasonally (which has gotten much easier now that I live with the Man-who-won’t-eat-vegetables). I won’t eat the oranges from Australia or the tomatoes from Israel or the grapes from Chile. I eat a lot of cooked greens in the winter — local kales and cabbages, some of which I put up myself from my garden. I forage for mushrooms. But I do all that because I believe in it, and I love it, and this is my place on the planet and I want to live in it fully. I was doing it 15 years ago, and I’ll probably be doing it as a batty old lady in tennis shoes. If you’re going to be a fashion-tourist in my territory, at least take the time to get your info right.
What I hate is pretentious asshats who want to apply the language of whatever food trend is current without knowing what they’re talking about. If you’re going to pretend to be a local-sustainable-wild foods sort of chef, at least learn a tiny bit about where it is you’re trying to cook those local-sustainable-wild foods.
Otherwise, the best I can do for you is to point you to the big patch of watercress growing next to East River road down by the Wan-a-Gan. But keep your eyes open, the willow thicket on the other side of the road is full of bears this time of year (Chuck had one stroll up the road at him the other night, just trundling along in the other lane, full up on huckleberries, heading home for the night).