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Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Locavore's Alchemy

Constantly at the fore in my kitchen and captivating visitors for the past couple of months is this book

"The New Wildcrafted Cuisine"
Pascal Baudar

Pascal is a professional forager in the Southern California region where his passion has taken this craft to its highest form. He inspires top chefs and home foodies alike to explore all the senses the local and oft over-looked ingredients, can evoke. Pascal doesn't just live seasonally upon the earth but immerses himself completely and reverently into the very alchemy of his local terrain.

"Oyster mushroom cooked in it's own environment
inspired by the smell of the forest after the rain" PB

Be not under any illusion that this is a foragers hand book and field guide. I suggest that for that purpose you should research and locate a guide book quite specific to your area and for those in Australia I would recommend "The Weed Foragers Handbook" by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland as a good starting place and there are many more of course.
Rather, this book inspires the cook, passionate in seasonal local fare, to take a more personal and profound journey. 

The powerful evocative qualities of aromatics a just as key as the taste sensations.

This book has quite opened my eyes to the tiny, tiny ingredients, like lerp sugar in these cookies. 

Or how about pine pollen and seeds from mustard and dock?

Lots of ferments, shrubs, pickling, brews and extractions.

Seed sensations, powders, rubs, smokes and even goat cheese made with fig sap as rennet.

What I particularly appreciate about this book is the way it is sectioned into seasons.

WINTER; The forest time
SPRING: The green time
SUMMER: The berries and fruits time
FALL/AUTUMN: The seeds time

Each section explores the various ingredients of the time and recipes are included and techniques explained. There is also quite a lot of thumbnail pictures in each section visually identifying what is commonly seen in the landscape (of Southern California of course). While some are area specific I have been delighted to find many cross overs. 

Would I make half of what's in this book? Unlikely, but it's definitely got me excited and thinking further afield and asking myself
"What is a true Tasmanian locavore palate?"
and not just how does it taste, but how does it smell and visualise, how does it integrate our modern acquired species and ancient native bush foods.

What I would love to see is a further exploration of Tasmanian bush tucker along these lines incorporating some of our native ingredients more alchemically. Think of the possibilities!  

I have been following Pascal for years on his facebook page here and I was so excited when he announced he was doing a book. I ordered mine through Amazon and this review is completely voluntary and unsolicited. Pascal Baudar very kindly allowed me to use his magnificent photographs throughout this post, many thanks.

You may also be interested to re-visit this post on Tasmanian Bush Food

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tanya,
    That appears to be an interesting book with stunning photography. There are ingredients there that I have never evEn heard of.
    I am afraid I am a very basic boring cook, but I could tell that you have a handle on the more exotic and unusual ingredients in your cooking and preserving. Was thinking about you yesterday, I finally filed away into my cookbook that lovely post card recipe you gave me when we called in. I also just found you on Pinterest and followed you ( I am My Blue eyed Jane on Pinterest)
    Take care Tanya


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