My friend HK used to use the term “forage” for what she’d do in our college cafeteria. Like any cafeteria situation no matter how good, you end up having to look around and create meals yourself with what’s available… you know, unless you like having the same hot meal in rotation every three weeks.
The foraging continues in my adult life, only this time it is inspired by my grandfather. Pepere Bee* is always picking various seasonal crops and sharing them. In the fall, he picks apples from wild trees and potatoes behind the potato harvesters that leave the smaller, though still tasty, ones behind. (Note: You should probably ask the farmer before you do this.) In the summer, it’s strawberries and blueberries. And in the spring, it’s fiddleheads.
Fiddleheads grow near soggy areas in the spring. Essentially they are ferns before they pop open. If you are looking for fiddleheads, make sure you are pretty confident in your identification skills and try areas alongside (clean) riverbanks in places that are harder to access by people. They end up being less picked over that way plus, you know, if you are going to eat something that’s been sitting in water, it ought to at least be clean water.
Here is my foolproof recipe. My friend Jake says it is better then his Memere’s** and my friends raved about them at Too Cute Tuesday.
Fiddleheads A La Nicole
1 pound of fiddleheads
2 bouillion cubes w/2 c. water
Melt butter in a large pan on medium high. In the meantime, wash the fiddleheads at least three times. You want the water to be relatively clean when you are done.
Dump fiddleheads in the pan and saute for a few minutes.
Add bouillion cubes/water. Cook for 10-15 minutes until fiddleheads are tender but not “limp”. (I think a lot of people overcook them.)
Add salt and pepper. Yum!
Don’t want to forage? They are for sale lots of places around (in Maine at least), including roadsides and at the grocery store.
Eating seasonally: cheaper, healthier, and tastier!
*We call grandfathers “pepere” where I am from.
**We call grandmother’s “memere”. In both these words, the “r” is sometimes not pronouced, making the words sound like “mah-may” and “puh-pay”. Ok that’s all the French lesson for today, folks!