Chelsea Green Publishing
However Didi met Eva, you will be glad they connected. Boston-based Didi Emmons describes herself as a “roving eco-chef, cookbook author, consultant and educator.” And the time she spent near Dartmouth, Massachusetts with the “near legendary farmer” Eva Sommaripa, whose 200 plus varieties of uncommon herbs, greens, flowers and wild edibles enliven menus of many famous northeast restaurants, resulted in the rare and wonderful “Wild Flavors.”
Author Emmons was inspired by their blossoming friendship and by Eva’s Gardens, which she describes as “… like the botanical version of the Louvre, plugged into some greater life force.” Eva, who hasn’t visited a grocery store in over a decade, believes that “…the supermarket is the great disconnect. Like a good relationship, there needs to be intimacy with food.”
Emmons says, “Eva’s creativity and the unusual herbs and foraged foods she cultivated were a continuous revelation.” And “Wild Flavors” is much more than a cookbook, highlighting four of Eva’s core principals, woven throughout the year: salvaging, community, bartering and preserving. The book features 46 plant profiles and 150 amazing recipes, along with important basics like vital gadgets for your kitchen, foraging and preparation techniques, how to best grow and snip your own herbs and just the right time to add them to a dish you’re cooking.
As the seasons passed, “I let the garden speak to me directly,” says Emmons, and “Wild Flavors” captures that conversation in the poetry of botany and delicious seasonal repast.
Rugosa rose. Bronze fennel. Spruce shoots. Calaminth. Juniper berries. Curly dock. Purslane. Goosefoot. Cardoon. Autumn olive. Stinging nettle. Claytonia. Spruce shoots. Chickweed. Sun chokes. I didn’t even realize some of those plants were edible, much less so delicious! “Wild Flavors” offers ways to include these and more humble and sublime elements in your meal planning, plus new ideas about familiar ingredients like beets, cabbage, kale, potatoes, leeks and more. From delicate herb and flower butters to savory soups and gratins, from unusual soups and salads and pasta dishes to “laryngitis tea” and robust stews, even desserts, the book follows one of Eva’s passions: to “not be afraid to try eating a plant in a new way, and to use every part of the plant.”
Emmons’s hope is to pique our curiosity enough so we slow down our hike through the farmer’s market or hillside or fields, that we discover and grow and cook these plants to add a little seasonal “Wild Flavor” to our own dinner tables, all year long.
With family roots in the fertile Red River Valley of North Dakota, Lynn Torrance Redlin has been part of the Cooking Up a Story team for a number of years. An avid gardener and home cook, Redlin is also a voracious reader, and enjoys exploring new information and ideas about our food system.