C’est parti! The season is off to a booming start..
The fiddleheads have been coming in by the potato sac, officially kicking off the season of wild edibles. We have enough wild greens to make a kick-ass spring salad mix: live-forever, violet leaves and flowers, daisy, cat’s tongue, spring beauty, linden, ramp leaves.. I have stinging nettle to make soup, day lily sprouts, some wild ginger and crinkleroot to play with too.. We’ve spotted the first morels (still in the ground, properly guarded). C’est parti! The cooler is overflowing; it’s time to get infusing, pickling, drying, blanching and putting up, embarking on the oh so familiar, constant rush of the growing season, which is all about trying to keep up with processing the pickings amidst serving customers. This is also when menu planning becomes so fun, even difficult because there is so much to work with.. I launched spring with an elaborate menu for the first two weeks of May, but because it was set before reality hit, my next menus sing spring to another degree because I’m living it now (and I don’t have a camera on my ass day in, day out). I was so inspired by my time in the woods for the first picks, I am buoyed by all the green and the signs of the local abundance to come, spring is in definitely in my step.. The first roadside stands selling local asparagus have appeared too, an essential part of spring, and I’m pumped because I’m done teaching, ready to devote my time to wild times at Les Jardins Sauvages.
Big news! François des Bois goes to the market!
As of Victoria day week-end (or la Fête des Patriotes, ie. this week-end), François will be at Jean Talon market from Thursday to Sunday selling his wild edibles. His stand will be next to the Cochon tout rond in the specialty aisle. He will have fiddleheads, wild spring mesclun mix (the greens mentioned below), edible wild flowers, eventually more greens and wild mushrooms (following the season) as well as his 'new and improved' line of products (mustards, oils, salts, vinaigrettes etc) and flavoured butters. I might even make some soup and sous-vide dishes at some point..
It’s all very exciting. Of course, it means more volume, work and organization, and that I need to be at the table champêtre all the time, but François loves the market; it is where he belongs (when he’s not in the woods), and most importantly, more people will have easy access to wild edibles. Chefs can stop by and stock up. Generations of Quebeckers can rediscover the traditions and flavours of their ancestors in eating wild greens, and give their immune system a boost in the process.
He won’t be selling anything that isn’t abundant, or that he doesn’t know where and how it was picked. Things like wild ginger and crinkleroot will not be available because although we use them, the government has them on their endangered list. François alleges that this is false (clear in our forest); when picked properly (ie.not pulling out the roots), they actually prosper, but still he doesn’t want to cause controversy or create a demand that would encourage twits to go harvesting carelessly. In some cases, eating a species keeps it alive, in other circumstances, popularity can be detrimental (think ramps in Quebec ).
See my ‘What’s cooking’ posts for spring recipes: featuring crab, shrimp, asparagus, fiddleheads, asparagus..
And this week's menu http://soupnancy.squarespace.com/menus/