Updated: Apr 26
MIner's lettuce, wood sorrel, chickweed, purslane, purple dead nettle , lambs quarters, bitter cress....all these most people classify as "weeds". Growing around your side walks, next to your mailbox, on your fence line, these greens pop up all over the place. Places you might not expect to see them, places like 5 star/5 diamond hotel, Places like the
Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee where I was a Sous Chef at a few years ago. Wild greens, or "weeds" are becoming more and more utilized in not only professional kitchens, but top professional kitchens. But, there's actually good reason for this. Unlike what I feel like most people are doing, putting shit in stuff for either shock value or to be hipstertastic, many of these plants are EXTREMELY healthy and tasty and actually make a lot of sense to use. Wood sorrel looks like a clover and offers quite a sour punch for its little size due to the amount of oxalic acid in it. This makes flavor profiles such as seafood or chicken pair swimmingly with the delightful bite of this plant (also its seed pods are the coolest things that will literally explode with flavor on your tongue, literally).
Miner's lettuce get's its name from the miner's that went out to California prospecting for gold. It's high in vitamin C and antioxidants and it helped the miners keep the scurvy at bay. It was also one of the ones we spent a butt load of money on to mix into our salad greens at the Hermitage.
Purslane was introduced to me by one of my chefs in Boston, James Beard winner Susie Regis. Michelin Star restaurant The Dabney I trailed at has an outline of Bitter Cress in its logo.
I think when most people think of the idea of foraging they think of going deep in the woods, somewhere far off the beaten path. I'm all about surrounding myself with nature and having miles between myself and society. But the truth is, that what I (and most foragers) want you to think. Most foragers want you to think that only they have access to these rare and wonderful treats of nature from a place far away and unreachable by more people. The simple true is, it probably grows less that 30 miles for your house. Is there knowledge that goes into being able to tell what's a delicious accoutrement to your meal and what's super deadly, yes of course. But a little knowledge goes a long way. So next time you get ready to shell out that 5$ for a quarter pound of purslane, maybe check Amazon for a used foraging guide.