Monday, April 12, 2010

Wild Food

There is something strange and unique about the place where I come from (Kotgarh, Shimla). First, the folks are humble and blissfully happy in their small world. Second - they drink a lot of 'sharab'. Third - the folks treat every cut and bruise with mustard oil. Forth - when they give up after being to the best of doctors in the country they turn to 'kul devta', who miraculously happen to fix 99% of their problems. Fifth - we guys eat weird wild delight; blissfully ignorant that some of the stuff we get for free is coveted in gastronomic world and people pay through their nose to eat it. And we love our wild food and celebrate it.

Let me expand on the last one today -
Mother Nature has offered us abundant supplies of Morels, Fiddleheads, Chanterelle and Nettle. Let’s understand them better and enjoy them.

Morels: These distinctive honeycomb-like mushrooms are found in the wild and in abundance but difficult to locate as they blend in well with the nature. Ask any morel hunter and they would concur that the morels are found in the same spot for years and then disappear without a trace and also that they tend to appear in spring in an area of the forest that has been burned. The morel is widely appreciated by gourmets, who savor its earthy and nutty flavor. Morels are always hollow, and this is one of the differences between the morels and the false morels. They complement other fresh spring vegetables and have an earthy taste to them when cooked with herbs and butter.

Fiddlehead ferns: Unfurled fronds of a young fern found in the moist place near a stream. Fiddlehead ferns are a good source of vitamins A and C and should not be served raw as they have a slight bitterness until cooked and may cause stomach upset if eaten raw in quantity. Sauté, stir-fry or steam briefly to retain their crunchy texture and bright green color.

Chanterelle (Mushroom): Another wild delight and the efforts to cultivate Chanterelles have never proved successful.
The chanterelle is considered to be one of the best wild mushrooms in the world. Mostly they are orange or yellow, meaty and funnel-shaped.

Stinging Nettles:  Nettles are covered with tiny, nearly invisible stinging hairs that produce an intense, stinging pain, followed redness and skin irritation - ask someone who has had an accidental brush with it. The sweet discomfort it put one through is remembered all the living moments. But the best way to tame it is to use it as a medicine and food. Nettles usually appear in the same places year after year. Look for them in rich soil, disturbed habitats, moist woodlands, thickets, along rivers, and along partially shaded trails. You can replace the green in your food with it and get out your favorite soup with nettle. Nettles contain the highest plant source of iron and it is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and protein. It is literally a “super-food” and FREE!

Bonum appetitionem! latin for Bon appetit!


Harsh Nema said...

free food :) nice one

Anonymous said...

Love the Morels. Good post mate.