Foraging lessons

Ever since I was a little girl, the idea of finding things in the wild that you could live off of has fascinated me. We had quite a bit of undeveloped land around us back then so many days were spent marching through fields and creeks pretending we were explorers discovering new lands. We made mud pies and stirred mysterious spices into pretend cauldrons. 

Over the years I've reveled in doing anything that allowed me to snack food from the wilderness and bring it directly to my table. (Morel hunting in the midwest was always something to look forward to.)

Since moving to Los Angeles, I've joined a couple of different foraging classes, and it's fascinating to discover just how much stuff there is all around us that can be harvested. Once someone pointed out pink peppercorn trees to me, I realized they're on just about every block in LA.

Last fall, I joined Pascal Baudar on one of his many nature & foraging walks. Even though everything was dry and crispy at the time, there was still plenty to see and learn. (I'm dying to do another walk now that it has been raining cats and dogs in Los Angeles!) And the foraging isn't just confined to plants- we learned about a sugar deposit on tree leaves that's essentially bug excrement, and ate black ants that had a lemony aftertaste.

Once the hike is over, Pascal gathers everyone together to sample a variety of foods he makes from foraged ingredients: Pears cooked in forest floor, sprinkled with the bug sugar, pickled quail eggs, hot sauces, spice blends, mustards, the most flavorful herb infused water I've ever sipped, dried + marinated crickets, and a variety of fermented sodas and beers. (He also offers classes specifically dedicated to fermenting wild beers and sodas.)

The walk just so happened to be in the same spot as a petting zoo too, so you know... Cute animal alert!

Pascal also has a beautiful cookbook out called The New Wildcrafted Cuisine. Even if you're not going our foraging for ingredients, I highly recommend it- gorgeous photography + so much great information about plants popping up all around you throughout the seasons.