Wild Food has become a bit of a fad word within the chef world and I’m forever seeing it on cooking programmes, which, in one way, is absolutely brilliant because wild food is becoming more common and more normal to use, but in another way it worries me slightly that it is just becoming a fad.
By using a handful of wild garlic (which could actually be cultivated?) in my food, is it now a wild food inspired meal – if you were a beginner in foraging I would definitely say so, I would also be excited that you’ve started to find the confidence to go out picking. But if it’s a restaurant or a chef do I think differently – I’m not too sure. I’m slightly in two minds about it – of course it’s great that wild foods are getting on to the menu but are they being harvested sustainably and collected safely (you really wouldn’t want to get a lords and ladies leaf mixed in there).
Aside to that – It’s actually quite extraordinary what some chefs are doing with wild foods and is definitely inspirational to see and hear of some concoctions that are being introduced through wild food. Deep fried and candied nettles being served on meadowsweet ice cream sounds absolutely delicious – and I bet looks quite nice as well. I think the key to this is to find chefs who are really excited about exploring wild foods, but are also willing to engage in the foraging relationship that comes with harvesting wild ingredients.
I actually took a number of chefs out on a forage recently and had a great time – what was specifically interesting for me was discussing the vast amount of ways the ingredients we were finding could potentially be used. I’d never thought of making a rose flower vinaigrette as a mid meal palette cleanser. It was a fabulous opportunity for us all as a group to learn together, discuss ideas and start to put recipes together for future cooking. I hope to see more wild foods on their menu soon.