Table of Contents:
Day 26 – 9/26/15
Today, I got up early and made my way to Central Park, sun hat, shovel, and tupperware in tow. I signed up for a tour led by Wildman Steve Brill to forage for wild edibles!
Foraging is not a common practice in the United States, and especially rare in Manhattan (blame the “Concrete Jungle” moniker). But growing up, foraging was not only normal, it was fun!
I grew up in a medium-sized city in China. Though we didn’t forage often, each spring, my grandparents would bring home bundles of young dandelion leaves, foraged from a nearby park or schoolyard. We’d blanch the bitter green leaves and eat them with jiang. Dandelion is supposedly good for cleansing the body and reducing the inflammation. But as a kid, I just thought of it as a yucky vegetable.
Back to present day, I was really excited to harvest some greens right from Manhattan’s own backyard. Steve was fantastic and amazingly knowledgeable about botany. Our tour group of twenty or so trekked our way through grassy fields, drier dirt patches, and woodlands. For three hours, Steve taught us how to identify, harvest, and cook wild edibles.
Our lucky finds today include but are not limited to:
Wood Sorrel – heart-shaped clovers that taste like lemonade
Common Plantain – edible seeds and leaves, but not amazingly delish (not pictured)
Burdock – Root vegetable commonly used in Japanese cuisine (not pictured)
Tupelo Berries – Little blue-black berries that grow on trees, tart!
Epazote – “Mexican Oregano”
Amaranth – A grain
Wild Lettuce – Larger than normal lettuce? Bitter
Purslane – Succulent
Curly Dock – A curlier burdock? (Not pictured)
Cleaning and scrubbing my harvest took way longer than I thought. And I have a new appreciation for the clean produce (especially root vegetables) we have access to in supermarkets. Do you know how long it takes to soak and scrub the soil from burdock roots?!? A long time!
Anyways, I’m really excited to actually cook the stuff I brought back from the tour. But that’ll be a task for tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Congee (皮蛋粥) – $0.28
2 Hard Boiled Eggs – $0.50
Banana – $0.19
Coke Chicken over Rice – $0.51
If you think what we are doing is interesting, impactful, or maybe kind of insane, please consider donating to our efforts here. 100% of the proceeds will go towards Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, a non-profit that works to eliminate food waste and redirect food waste into solving urban hunger.
Donation Total: $670