Wild foods are increasingly popular, as evidenced by the number of new books about identifying plants and foraging ingredients, as well as those written by chefs about culinary creations that incorporate wild ingredients (Noma, Faviken, Quay, Manreza, et al.). The New Wildcrafted Cuisine, however, goes well beyond both of these genres to deeply explore the flavors of local terroir, combining the research and knowledge of plants and landscape that chefs often lack with the fascinating and innovative techniques of a master food preserver and self-described “culinary alchemist.”
Author Pascal Baudar views his home terrain of southern California (mountain, desert, chaparral, and seashore) as a culinary playground, full of wild plants and other edible and delicious foods (even insects) that once were gathered and used by native peoples but that have only recently begun to be re-explored and appreciated.
For instance, he uses various barks to make smoked vinegars, and combines ants, plants, and insect sugar to brew primitive beers. Stems of aromatic plants are used to make skewers. Selected rocks become grinding stones, griddles, or plates. Even fallen leaves and other natural materials from the forest floor can be utilized to impart a truly local flavor to meats and vegetables, one that captures and expresses the essence of season and place.
This beautifully photographed book offers up dozens of creative recipes and instructions for preparing a pantry full of preserved foods, including Pickled Acorns, White Sage-Lime Cider, Wild Kimchi Spice, Currant Capers, Infused Salts with Wild Herbs, Pine Needles Vinegar, and many more. And though the author’s own palette of wild foods are mostly common to southern California, readers everywhere can apply Baudar’s deep foraging wisdom and experience to explore their own bioregions and find an astonishing array of plants and other materials that can be used in their own kitchens.
The New Wildcrafted Cuisine is an extraordinary book by a passionate and committed student of nature, one that will inspire both chefs and adventurous eaters to get creative with their own local landscapes.