Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

REVIEW: Street Food

Street Food Launch frontCeridwen Buckmaster, Street Food: Urban foraging and world food, Invisible Press, 2013.
This attractive book is a much expanded version of the booklet The London Salad, produced by Ceridwen Buckmaster (a.k.a. Ceri Buck) in 2011.
Buckmaster works through the year describing edible wild plants available to city-dwellers each month, and provides recipes which use these. As in many books on foraged foods the wild plants do not form a major part of the lists of ingredients, but the aim is not to plunder and live off parks and open spaces; the emphasis is on gathering plants as a community activity, reintroducing people to the natural world, followed by cooking and experimenting with these plants, sharing recipes from diverse cultures. Thus the easy to follow recipes are adapted from traditional dishes from many parts of the world, including East Africa, Italy, Jamaica and Vietnam. A pleasing feature is the inclusion at the end of each month of ‘Soul food’, Buckmaster’s thought-provoking musings on her community foraging and cooking. These are reminiscent of Quakers’ Advices & Queries and can be usefully read and gently absorbed by anyone interested in community activities:
‘In the city, you can travel round the world, just by connecting to your neighbour.’
‘Very often we don’t need teachers, our curiosity just needs some company.’
Unfortunately the book has arrived at a time when few wild plants are available for collecting, and rather too late for buying as a Christmas gift, but it should be bought, and will be enjoyed, by anyone with an interest in reconnecting urban people with wild plants.

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