Written by former NY Times Urban Forager Ava Chin, the food memoir tracks the author’s childhood in Flushing, Queens and reveals how foraging and the DIY-food movement later teaches her important lessons in self-reliance as she immerses herself in the natural produce of Prospect and Central Parks—discovering delectable mushrooms, mulberries, and fellow foragers along the way.
A friend of mine and I were just discussing which of our senses we could live without. After a bit of thinking I had settled on smell— a decision directly related to living in a city where ambient smells are cheap, plentiful, confusing, and often punishing as summer wears on. But it’s autumn now, thankfully, and the air is crisp (or it’s going to be soon? Next week? By Halloween?), and if I couldn’t smell I’d miss some of the best things about this season…leaf piles, wood stoves, hot apple cider, and fresh concord grapes!
Brooklyn’s been squawking a lot about chickens lately, but you hear more about the trend of raising backyard birds than you do about foraging for the fungal variety. Chicken of the Woods, also known by its less tantalizing name Laetiporus sulphureus (or Sulphur Shelf…yum!), is also worth clucking about, as it’s in season now in your local forest, park, or maybe even your own backyard. And if you find a good one, young and tender (they get more brittle as they age), throw it into your knapsack and take it back to your kitchen. When I first saw this mushroom I assumed the name came from its appearance, with feathery edges reminiscent of the tawny-colored Buff Orpington poultry breed. But after trying a bite of the cooked mushroom, I was blown away by how much it tasted like chicken! Earthy, faintly-lemony flavor and meaty, almost muscle-y, texture make this a great meat alternative in a main course or simply an interesting seasonal side dish.