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Foraged Flavor, A Unique New Cookbook Uses Weeds as Vegetables

Stinging Nettle on pizza?Who wouldn't love a woman who prefers harvesting no-maintenance weeds for her salad over meticulously staking high-maintenance tomatoes? At the very least, curiosity is what Eddy Leroux, chef de cuisine of Daniel (Daniel Boulud's flagship restaurant in New York City) must have felt when a diner came in with a most unusual request; she sent back to the famed kitchen a bunch of weeds (anise hyssop actually) from her backyard in New Jersey to be used in her meal. It was a balsy move to say the least, but the client, Tama Matsuoka Wong, was a Harvard-trained lawyer (the definition of balsy) and an amateur gardener with a palate that apparently experiences essence of grass as a pleasurable flavor.

Fast-forward three years, and Mr. Leroux and Ms. Wong have just released a delightfully quirky book, Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer's Market.  In it, readers learn to identify (and enhance standard ingredients with) common garden weeds such as bee balm, lavender, wild sorrel, creeping Jenny and chickweed. Ms. Wong maintains a website with a fascinating foraging calendar and weed-id feature (send in a photo and a field botanist id's it for you.) It would be wise to spend some time on the weed-id feature before getting started with weed cooking. Poison Ivy makes a horrific appetizer.

Read The New York Times feature about Tama Matuoka Wong.

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