This past Friday I had the good fortune to attend the Food Book Fair in Williamsburg (I was given press access so I could attend for free). I got to see Evan Strusinski (above right, forager for several restaurants) and Fredrik Berselius (above left, chef at Aska debate the definition of foraging. Strusinski said he cringes at the word and is unhappy with the growing trend (and one that I happen to enjoy), but still feels a primal excitement when he finds a wild edible. Burselius talked about the hazards of basing a menu on local seasonal ingredients — a bit of unseasonably cold weather can wipe out an ingredient you were counting on. We also got to sample some wild edibles, including cattail shoots — layered like scallions but with the flavor of cucumber — and whiskey flavored with sweet birch.
I also saw a panel with the editors of American Food Roots (from left to right above: Bonny Wolf, Michele Kayal, and Domenica Marchetti), a website that chronicles the stories of food here in America. They had some interesting stories to share from around the country, and opened the discussion up to the audience to share their own food stories. It was an informative and interesting discussion about how personal our food memories really are.