Appalachian Fine Dining–Wild Greens
It’s that time of year. That time when the old folks would be shunning preserved foods for something fresh. Something green. Poke sallat is tender and green. Fiddleheads look like belated Christmas ornaments. Ramp dinners are raising money all up and down the Appalachians.
My great-grandmother would be thrilled with the addition of all this chlorophyll and vitamin C to her family’s diet. And I, too, could be dining on fresh, wild produce. I know what it looks like. I know to pick Dandelion greens in wild places where they haven’t been treated with chemicals. I could dig a mess of ramps quicker than I could run to the store.
But I don’t. Honestly, I’m just not that fond of these fresh, wild greens that were basically a matter of survival for my ancestors. Maybe I need another generation or two between me and this not very glamorous foraging–not for delicacies–but for sustenance.
I have a friend who took a cooking class in France. They prepared creasy greens and rabbit among other dishes. Hmmm. So. They cooked plants my grandmother would have gathered in the ditches with meat my grandfather would have shot or trapped. I’m sure it was delicious, but it seems incongruous to me that this is fine dining.
I’m all for home-grown foods–for native foods indigenous to a place. But ramps make you stink. Poke turns poisonous later in the season and fiddleheads? Well, I prefer to look at them.