Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In The Weeds

"When a cook is said to be in the weeds..."

Thus begins the article on René Redzepi and his restaurant Noma in The New York Times. It actually was put on the "cover" of said news paper's web site.

(It kind of makes you wonder what The New York Times is not reporting on. Makes me wonder that, anyway.)

You've got to admire Redzepi's dedication to local indigenous plants. The article mentions such delicacies as Scurvy Grass and Sorrel. And yet, once those happy feelings have abated, you're left with what's the big whup?--at least regarding use of local and wild plants (his plates look quite exciting.)

Harvesting local, wild plants (including mushrooms)...yeah, uh...yes! Um, isn't that how it used to be all the time? Is this part of some kind of larger cultural trend...maybe a larger cultural trend against culture?

Not to make things harder on anyone, but if I were designing a culinary curriculum, one of the questions would be "name at least 5 perinneal and 10 annual herbs that can grow in your zone." Another would be "identify, harvest and prepare or incorporate 10 different 'wild' plants from your region."

What are the native, edible plants here in the Okanagan? Do Elderflowers count? How about Saskatoon berries? Wild rose hips? Help me out! Can't we make a big "cheat sheet" of all the edibles with pictures and everything? Flowers too: can't tell your calendula from your bergamot? Shouldn't there be a one stop web resource for Okanagan chef's for all that info?

Late breaking news: Noma cookbook available for pre order.


  1. Yes Stanley, of course there should be such reference or cheat sheet available. To be honest, I would have a hard time identifying that many regional plants. I have been looking high and low for any sort of information on edible plant life in the south okanagan but I never seem to be able to get anywhere with it. I know that you and your better half have a vast knowledge of such things. Perhaps it would be a boon to us cooks if someone like yourself were to add a catalog of photos and vital stats for said plant life.
    I have had linden tea before but would not be able to pick it out of a lineup of similar looking plants. Seeing a whole room full of such plants dying in your home was something of pure beauty.
    Only when "chefs" can admit when they lack knowledge about something can something like what you just wrote be a valuable resource. More on that in an upcoming post.
    I must say that I like where you're going with this.

  2. Now that "the computer" can fit into an embroidered shirt pocket, those 'apps' and resources take on a whole new "use value."

    While I am beyond certain that the sentiment of not-sharing exists in all pursuits (as a result of culture and society, not genetics) said non-sharing is most repellent when it comes data that already exists. While one person could theoretically allocate the hours (well, the several minutes) to put together a blog/web page of "know your Okanagan edibles" the real utility comes when that kind of project is tackled by the people (in "Association" or otherwise) who will ultimately be the end users.

    Open source v. private commodity. What have we learned from "Linux" and how can the open-source, co-operative information sharing modality be applied to our beloved world of culinaria?