I kind of love the idea that these pesky little nuts, while downright dangerous under foot, are actually a survival food. After foraging sumac a few weeks ago, I was flipping through Stalking the Wild Asparagus and became captivated by the idea of turning acorns into dinner. I was probably six-years-old the last time I tried this experiment, and there was certainly no salt, butter or simmering involved. Needless to say, my past taste tests were as discouraging as they were ill-informed.
I was recently at my two-year-old nephew's backyard birthday party (dressed as Paul Bunyan, of course) when, suddenly, I was surrounded by acorns. Far too enterprising to pass up the bounty, I fetched a grocery bag from the car and started scrounging. It's amazing how expressing enthusiasm, regardless of the focus, garners the attention of curious onlookers. It wasn't long before several of these onlookers, including 95-year-old Grandma Helen, joined in the foraging fun. After a few short minutes I had more than enough acorns for my experiment...maybe even enough to survive the winter...
Foraging is one of those activities that brings us back to our hunter-gatherer roots, and it's just plain fun--maybe because it feels a little too good to be true. Conventional gardening is hard work; you cultivate, mulch, sow, weed, water, protect, and then harvest. To boot, all of these steps are predicated on the ownership, or at least occupancy of, land. Even a city slicker can forage, and, regardless of whether you live in a condo or a cottage, you can skip right to the best part.
Where I live, sumac grows like a weed. I see it on roadsides everywhere as it thrives in sunny spots along the edges of wild land. While, according to grandpa's old copy of Stalking the Wild Asparagus, staghorn sumac peaks in the heat of August, I thought I'd seize a late opportunity to pick some while it is still abundant. One man's roadside weed is another man's pink lemonade. Consider me a pink lemonade man.
I'm Ethan, a guy whose life used to be controlled by ulcerative colitis. As I systematically tested diets, treatments, and all types of health advice to heal my colon, I learned a lot about my own biology and also how to cook without compromise. I'm here to share the best (and sometimes worst) of that journey with you.