Get Involved
About Us
Our Members
Dining Naturally: Wild Food.
by Roger Phillips, 1986, Little, Brown & Co. 190 pp. + index. Color photos. Softcover. $19.95.

Over the years I have collected a number of books that treat the subject of wild foods -- most of them being printed in black and white, using line drawings and/or botanical descriptions to help in identification. Until this book came out, such was the genre of wild food books.

Roger Phillips and his publisher should be commended for producing a book of consummate esthetic quality. There are beautiful color photos on every page, some of them so well styled that a reader might be intimidated into never trying to forage and cook in the wild -- "My meals could never look that good!"

The author is obviously a master at his craft, having begun on the wild food journey at age seven. He presents his information in an orderly fashion, noting botanical names for all species, and cautions about potential toxicity and misidentification where appropriate (e.g., foraging mushrooms). He underscores the maxim of mycologists: "When in doubt, don't."

Areas covered include syrups, spring leaves and shoots, summer flowers and herbs, teas, "dangerous" edible plants (poke, cowslip, lamb's quarters, pigweed), seaweeds (an unusual addition), desert plants, mushrooms, berries and fruits, nuts and seeds, and roots. An extensive bibliography includes all of the classics in this field (Sturtevant, Gibbons, Angier, Gray, Gilmore, etc.).

This is a coffee table quality book and most suitable as a gift to a beginner or even someone who is already well-versed in the culinary craft of harvesting and preparing wild foods. Seasonal harvest information, geographical distribution, and traditional food and folk medicine uses are all included on each species; plus a generous sampling of recipes which attest to the author's wide experience and expertise. An enticing introduction to a field of growing interest among consumers and even food marketers.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.