Picking fruit and vegetables that grow spontaneously in the woods isn’t a new trend at all: we could go back until Neanderthal man to prove how solidly rooted in mankind this habit is. But why has foraging become so popular now even in busy city centres of the likes of NYC?
The truth is, we all need to take control of our lives and re-establish a connection with nature somehow and venturing in the outdoors in search of fresh berries doesn’t sound as crazy as letting Google drive your car.
But what is foraging, or better, what types of ‘products’ can you pick and munch directly from the woods?
Knowing all the types of edible foods in the outdoors around you isn’t something you can get from us right now, as we would have to be even more expert on wildlife than National Geographic. However, anything from mushrooms, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, elderflower, chestnuts are all woods ready made products available in most central Europe countries as well as other temperate climate territories.
The golden rule of foraging is ‘don’t put anything in your mouth unless you are 100% sure of it’; this goes especially for mushrooms and berries, as some types can be as dangerous as lethal.
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Long lived traditions
The beauty of foraging in countries like Italy is its strong link with local events and fairs as even a 10-minute drive from Milan can take you to celebrating the foraging of chestnuts, considered more of an actual ‘social rite’ that brings kids and families together, ultimately, as usual, around a table.
Big Cities finds
If you are not in Italy, don’t feel lost! Foraging is becoming increasingly popular in places where people rather forage for Gin n’ Tonics rather than leaves and berries: New York. Here there’s a bunch of people who in their time off work spot and pick the freshest garlic mustard, amongst other ‘salad ingredients’. An act of switching off from the rat race as well as engaging with fellow humans in activities that take them back to the very primordial nature of humankind. Boredom did not exist million years ago, when food wasn’t served up at a microwave’s ding and fetching a banana involved a lot more effort than a trip down the supermarket.
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Foraging in Scandinavian countries is probably a trend no one has felt the need of calling trend, as it has always been part of the Northern culture, the lives and the souls of the people who inhabit the strolling lands of moss and lichens, as well white birch magical woods.
Northern countries are famous for minimalist design and super expensive alcohol but this app will probably serve as the next big export coming out from Denmark: it’s called VildMad and it holds the knowledge on what to forage, where to forage it and how to use it in delicious recipes.
If in Italy we put our wellies on in search of Asparagus acutifolius, Picroides reichardia, Cichorium intybus for example, according to VidMad a good find in the northern regions is sheep’s sorrel, an ingredient to use in anything from rhubarb ice cream as well as in risotto.
Fine dining & foraging
Reopening of Noma
Noma is the ionic food beacon in Copenhagen that has been leading the way for some years: it has reopened with a different ‘season menus’: December falls for example in the Game & Forest season and has on its menu anything that grows in the forest from wild plants to nuts as well as game, such as leg of moose, reindeer tongue and wild duck.
Noma’s Chef René Redzepi, who took Noma from its 2003 beginnings to becoming ‘the best restaurant in the world’ – for the fourth time – and to two Michelin stars, was only absent for one year, but even out of the scene, their attention to preparations and sourcing is trending more than ever.
New Nordic at Fäviken
The idea of homemade and rustic is about to be swiped away from your mind as we suggest foraging is also one very popular trend in Michelin Star kitchens: Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson has been proclaiming the ‘new Nordic’ trend for 8 years now, since he opened the Fäviken. The restaurant not only aims at giving diners a sublime experience of new flavours thanks to foraging ingredients, but is also set in a remote location, embedded perfectly with the surrounding blissful scenario.
Haven’t you got your wellies on yet?