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Years ago, Tama Matsuoka Wong found herself lugging garbage bags full of wild greens on the subway, en route to the Daniel kitchen. The chef de cuisine there, Eddy Leroux, had asked Matsuoka to be the restaurant’s forager. If he didn’t always recognize what she brought him, it’s because as an expert on wild plants in New Jersey and the mid-Atlantic, Matusoka was bringing many forgotten edibles back into the kitchen.
Knotweed, daylily shoots, moneywort, galinsoga. Over time, Leroux worked with all of them, and now, the two have paired up on a book, Foraged Flavor. The book is one part field guide–with tips and clear photographs that help you identify ingredients from the root to the tip of the leaves–to one part cookbook. And the recipes, which were tested by Wong’s 15-year-old daughter, aren’t elaborate restaurant-style dishes. They’re lean and simple, like an elderflower cordial; amaranth and feta phyllo triangles; and a sumac and fig tart. You’ll find plenty of cooking inspiration here, even if you aren’t planning a foraging excursion.
Foraged Flavor, Tama Matsuoka Wong and Eddy Leroux (Clarkson Potter, 2012)