donderdag 5 januari 2012

Another book on Wild Foods

The things you buy on Ebay for 99p.

When I ordered Avril Rodway's book 'Wild Foods' I didn't know what to expect. Rodway has written several books but none seems to have ever been reviewed, Rodway herself has no website, on-line profile or wikipedia page. For that money I was expecting a shabby paperback with dirt all over it. What I got was a large hardback that looks unread even though it was published back in 1988. 

'Wild Food' markets the pleasures of foraging to country people as a way to feel a little more connected to the surrounding. To Rodway wild plants are an educational Tory hobby not a way of life or a political activity, nor is she driven by the survival motive. If she runs out of bread she will eat cake. The fifty plants she covers are all usual suspects and this makes this an escape to the country beginners book. However: the illustrations by Zane Carey are all beautiful and Rodways introductions are a pleasure to read. For almost each plant she gives (cultural) references from the past, from Shakespeare to Herbals, and the youngest source pre-dates the First World War. In her zeal to remind us that eating plants from a hedgerow is not some weird atavistic deer instinct but a rediscovery of a plant use that has a long history she also, undercover and unwittingly (?), writes about industrialization and urbanization. Even hundred years ago many people still had an active, working relationship with the common wild plants around them. Now we don't live with plants but alongside them. A rich tradition of practical folk knowledge of plants use and lore has been lost and the forager is rediscovering it through consulting old books and experimentation.

There are many recipes.

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