cover image Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal

Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal

Ava Chin. Simon & Schuster, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4516-5619-0

Chin, who writes the “Wild Edibles” column for the New York Times, goes looking for love, blackberries, and wild garlic in this wildly uneven, yet warmly exhilarating memoir. Trekking through Central Park and other urban beaten paths and backyards, Chin leads us on a journey of discovery as she searches for the tender shoots poking through cement cracks and hardy wild plants resisting winter’s bite. With wild-eyed wonder, she reveals the tastes of the plants she discovers on her expeditions: the burst of flavor of wood sorrel, the bitterness of the medicinal reishi mushroom, and the “benign sweetness” of mulberries. Sometimes she sounds like a teenaged cheerleader: “This was going to be the tastiest wild foods brunch ever.” Yet, her rooting for fungi, tubers, and berries mostly prompts deeper reflections on the relation of food to life: “foraging had a way of doing that—distracting me from the fact that I was single and in my late thirties, and… feeling that I was running out of time.” After she helps retrieve errant honeybees that had fallen from the hive, Chin ruminates as she watches “the frenetic activities of the honeybees, [she] thought that… even on our very worst days, none of us was acting alone.” In the end, Chin’s affectionate rummaging through the fields and forests of her life yields some tasty dishes. (May)