Street Food: Urban Foraging & World Food

Tony Rollinson | Thursday, 10th July 2014
A great guide to foraging in the urban setting with 60 recipes for world foods.
Author: Ceridwen Buckmaster
Publisher: Invisible Press
Publication year: 2013
RRP: £15.00

Street Food is a recipe book that presents wild food as 'the new street food', where the vendors, like the food, are often outdoors and easily accessible. These foods offer dramatic, inventive tastes yet are inexpensive and no longer just the preserve of Michelin Star chefs or identikit chains.

It helps you re-imagine some of the oldest indigenous foods that you can forage from your own locale, like nettles in the UK. It shows you how to do this safely and encourages responsible harvesting.

The author is not seeking to create a fad for wild food foraging that destroys wildlife. Buckmaster connects to the permaculture and transition movements in that she sees wild food as something which connects us to the planet and to our communities. It is just as much about enjoying the foraging walks and the collecting and storing of seeds, as it is about the preparation and eating of the food.

She says, "Since 2008 we've gone walking together in parks and green spaces finding plants that are edible and safe to pick; and we've experimented with each other's cooking traditions. In the city you can travel round the world just by connecting to your neighbour."

The 60 recipes in the book are mainly vegetarian, but sometimes contain fish, if this is essential in the traditional recipe. And, before you are put off, not all the ingredients are foraged. This is not an experiment in living off of foraged food alone, but rather it is about the multicultural inspiration of cuisine and company.

Each month the mouthwatering recipes celebrate a different region (with a wild food recommended for each month). For example January offers up spicy dishes from South East Asia, including Malaysian goosegrass and Vietnamese rice wraps with wild herbs. August has wild herb Jamaican patties (including nettle, dandelion, bitter cress, chickweed and yarrow), saltfish and boiled dumplings and a Caribbean blackberry smoothie.

Elsewhere there is Polish pierogi with nettle and thistle shoots, South Asian chestnut and fig biryani, East African yarrow honey wine and even recipes using knotweed. The dishes inspire you to think of connections – you cannot help but be inspired!

This is a great gift as well as something to have on your own kitchen bookshelf. I would certainly have this, alongside Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger, as something that helps Mrs Rollinson and me use up our produce in imaginative ways, delighting our taste buds as well as our pockets – and those really are the sorts of books worth having in this current economic environment.

Practical, great fun and highly recommended.

Further resources

Food for Free by Richard Mabey

The Thrifty Forager by Alys Fowler

Foraging with Fergus Drennan

A guide to fungi foraging

Foraging for wild food and medicinal plants

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