We went over the mountain via the Bell Line. There were severe fires there about 6 weeks ago, and then it came the rain 4 weeks ago, for 2 weeks.
We eventually went all the way to Newnes, a deep valley on the other side of the ranges, untouched by fires, historic sites with industrial architecture renmants. It felt like stepping into Mordor 100 hundred years after the defeat.
We launched a pozible campaign, a crowd funding exercise that would help to raise the profile of #WildFoodMap.
The idea is simple, you get asked all the time where is this wild food and how do I know if it is clean to eat, so together with Adrian O’Doherty and with the help of Boris Gordon, we developed and launched #WildFoodMap, an Instagram x Google Maps mashup facilitating a community-driven wild food and medicine plant identification and social mapping service. We’ve set out to provide a platform to locate sources of free food and medicine plants (native or not) living in the landscape sharing locations and related knowledge through social media interaction.
The coding of it is very exciting, integrating social media possibilities while looking at a plant on location gives the chance of an heightened learning experience, empowering people and facilitating peer-to-peer exchanges.
For the campaign we have been incredibly lucky to draw in some great partner, like Studio Neon, with chefs Aaron Teece and Richard Robertson, or Trolley’d, with mixologists Byron Woolfrey and Chris Thomas, and more, like Mirra Whale with her amazing artworks, Big Fag Press, which printed the artworks and FEIT, who offered handmade shoes and wallets..
The rewards are awesome, sumptuous dinners, fun parties, workshops and books, prints and thank yous, select what you like and help create a reference platform, an environmentalist argument, a foodie heaven>>
Here’s a video from the guys at Studio Neon, yumm-y
Check the map here>> wildfood.in (you will need instagram to access it)
Support the campaign here>> www.pozible.com/wildfoodmap (so that you will be able to access it even if you do not have instagram
This is the poster presented by Anna DuChesne at the 2013 annual meeting of the Society for Economic Botany, held in Plymouth, England.
Anna is a Master of Science (Ethnobotany) student at Southern Cross University, Lismore. Her research focus on the home gardens of Italian migrants in the Northern Rivers -assessing the plants growing in it but also the practice of collecting from the wild- and hope to demonstrate that wildcrafting is alive and well in Australia, focusing on the Italian community as an example.
In Anna’s words:
Within ethnobotanical literature, the gathering of wild food plants is recognised as a practice that is central to traditional plant knowledge, use and belief in Italy.
In the academic literature, there is an overwhelming lack of recognition of the traditional ecological knowledge of Australia’s diverse migrant groups. However there is a growing interest in traditional methods, foraging, etc in the popular media. The recent popularity of foraging in cities may be seen as reclamation of Traditional Knowledge practices.
I wonder if the public perception of “the forager” – based on the Australian media’s celebration of high end European chefs (eg Rene Redzepi from Noma in Copenhagen) has blinded us to the everyday practice of collecting wild vegetables that has been quietly taking place in the Italian, Polish, Lebanese, Macedonian, Serbian migrant communities through out Australia?
below is Anna presenting the poster at the conference:
It’s all happening down at The Rocks Windmill. The sails are turning, wheat is being ground into flour, Diego Bonetto is telling some fascinating weedy stories, Costa Georgiadis is getting very excited about our daily bread and kids are loving the school holiday workshops.
The Rocks Windmill
The Rocks Square
12 April – 12 May 2013
9am – 5pm daily (plus most evenings for programmed events)
For information and a full program of events, visit here>>
Anne Fullerton was on a mission. Enticed by the latest culinary crave for wild food, she decided to take on the challenge of preparing a dinner entirely sourced from urban wilderness.
To do so she needed a guide to take her through the abandoned areas of Sydney and to point at the edible possibilities under her own feet.
Anne contacted you, and with trepidation followed you amongst nettle, blackberries and wild fennels to discover fields of dandelions, plantain and dock, turkey rhubarb and wood sorrel, and more that she could digest (metaphorically) on her crash course.
She was way out of her market-ready comfort zone, but eager to listen.
She was out of season for most of the things offered too, but as an eager (stoic) adventurer she followed you, like Little Red Riding Hood >>
The dinner was challenging, the guests unaccustomed to most flavours, but she succeeded in recounting her experience and experimentation in this lovely article below, published in Marie Claire, soon in the news stands.
Sydney-based foraging expert Diego Bonetto was involved in last year’s Wild Chef Challenge, part of the Sydney Morning Herald Crave Sydney International Food Festival.
“I grew up on a dairy farm in Italy and foraging is something everybody does from an early age, knowledge passed on from generation to generation,” Bonetto says.
When not conducting foraging tours, Bonetto collaborates with chefs who want to work with foraged ingredients on specific occasions.
“What I teach is just recycled information already,” he says. “It’s knowledge that our ancestors knew by heart, but got lost during the industrialisation of food and agriculture.”
The good news is it doesn’t take long to rediscover, according to Bonetto, but adds as an aside that there are some common sense rules necessary when foraging.
“Firstly, positively identify everything,” he says. “Don’t just go around with a PDF you printed from the internet trying to guess which are the plants. It’s pretty hard to get food poisoning but it’s not
impossible. Many taste bad so you wouldn’t eat them anyway, but in terms of mushrooms you can pay with your life if you don’t make the right decision.
“Best of all go with someone who knows. Foraging is something that you learn through action so you need to be taken to see what it looks like in its environment and get to familiarise with the plants.
I collaborate with a lot of indigenous people and they say once you do the story you own it, but you need to do it first. It’s not enough just to read about.
The smells, the colours, the colony and how they grow in conjunction with other plants – all these details help you identify species with confidence.”
Rule number two is to forage in your own backyard. “Especially in urban environments where you don’t know what’s safe, what pesticides have been used, and what the history of the ground is where they are growing. In your own backyard you know what’s happening,” he says.
The third and final rule is simply tread lightly. “Never over harvest,” he says. “Be sure you don’t crop all of the flowers and all of the seeds so it is there for you to come back to.”
So does this spell the end of farming as we know it, with chefs simply gathering what they need for the day from the side of the road as they come to work? Bonetto thinks not.
“We are not talking about survivalist skills, we are talking about gastro entertainment and enjoying something new and something special,” he says. “It’s not about surviving the apocalypse.”
Bonetto’s pick of wild plants in Australia
Amaranth – leaves in soups and casseroles, seeds in breads and cakes Fat hen – leaves in stir-fry, seeds as flour for bread Dandelion – leaves in salad, roots as coffee substitute Wood sorrel – leaves in salads, flowers as garnish Chickweed – young leaves used in salads or as garnish Mallow – young leaves in frittata, seed pods as finger food Wild fennel – young fronds as herb, seeds as tea Nettle – young shoots in soups and tea Rambling dock – leaves as pot herbs and baked with fish Scurvy weed – young shoots in casseroles and risottos Warrigal greens – leaves and stems in curries and as a pot herb Sowthistle – young leaves in salads or sauteed in oil with lemon
Because of what you do you get to hang out a lot with food affecionados: chefs, caterers, providores, producers, distributors, believers and amateurs.
The common threat is the love for produce, its possibilities and the discovery of natural ingredients at our door steps.
It is Mushroom season and you have started running harvesting tours, where you take people out in the (pine) forest and teach them how to safely identify a number of edible mushrooms.
Below is the account from Zo of Two Spoons, a keen explorer of food possibilities and peculiarities.
Last weekend, I joined the wonderful Diego Bonetto of Wild Stories and several other mushroom hunters for a beautiful journey into the pine forests of New South Wales. As well as enjoying delightful scenes of the countryside rush past lit in golden sunrise light, everyone went home with bulging bags of foodie treasure, with plenty left for anyone who followed in our footsteps. At $40 a kilo, I was pretty keen to learn the art of pine mushroom stalking and squishing them tightly into my backpack.
As much as it’s tempting to sound far more knowledgeable than I actually am, I don’t want to give much away, because you really do benefit from going with an experienced mushroomer. It’s not only safer, but far more relaxing and enjoyable than trying to nut it out on your own based on a blog post! If you happen to be in the Sydney area, Wild Stories is running one last outing on April 20th at the end of the season after the last two sold out. It’s all very safe – there were even signs and brochures erected at both the locations we went to, declaring the treasures to be found amongst the trees.
Off we went, feeling very hunter-gathery but also politely not elbowing anyone out of the way when we spotted one – not that we had to, especially at the second place we went to! When I spotted my first mushroom I felt like I had struck gold – literally. The rich “saffron milk” that gives pine mushrooms its distinct golden colour is delightfully vibrant.
My favourite are still the small day-old babies, which aren’t as delicate as their older three-to-four-day cousins so they last longer and don’t get smooshed so much when you try to clean them. Texture wise they’re also more like button mushrooms as opposed to their larger counterparts – tighter and firmer. That said, the larger ones are nothing like the large mushrooms in texture once cooked – the skin is much more discernible when you bite into them.
Diego also gave us some important identification lessons, in a valiant attempt to ensure we all survived our mushroom feasts. Given that the same type of mushroom can vary in appearance due to the less controllable conditions in the forest and the various bits and pieces on the forest floor that bend the mushrooms into different shapes, it was important to know multiple characteristics to look out for. He also imparted some invaluable wisdom about the context of picking them, such as the effect of the weather and type of forest.
Here were some of our rejects that we collected and were unsure of, mixed in with a few edibles too. Just like recycling, if in doubt, leave it out!
To end our morning, we were treated to the fruits of our forage, with garlic, salt and olive oil, finished with a bit of parsley. My jeans still smell smokey from slicing mushrooms by the fire and it makes me drool a little every time I catch a whiff. The mushrooms themselves pack some gorgeous umami and earthy woodiness, with the slightest bitterness to offset their richness. They were not slimy at all, but nice and toothsome without being leathery.
When I got home with my greedy backpack full of mushrooms, I got lazy and cleaned them with water (you’re meant to just brush them clean), but the skins were a lot less absorbent than regular mushrooms, so the water just kind of slid off. Still, they didn’t turn out soggy at all – a bit of a miracle really. A little kiss of butter made them even more sublime. My freezer is now heartily bursting with boxes of precooked sliced mushrooms, waiting to be used in a killer risotto or creamy pasta. I think these would work best in something with a decent amount of moisture, as their intensity and firm, non-slimy texture would lift a silky sauce and help flavour a silky sauce or soup nicely.
So far I’ve enjoyed them with goats cheese over polenta chips (waaaay too rich), and in a grilled cheese with basil oil (yeah, I didn’t learn my lesson…).