By 300 Sandwiches
But my friend Ava Chin is. I was lucky to meet Ava through a mutual friend of ours who thought we should meet since we were both writing food memoirs at the same time. She just published the book, “Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal,” a memoir about how learning to forage helped her overcome personal challenges. She’s not only a foodie and an amazing author, she is a columnist for The New York Times and an associate professor at College of Staten Island-CUNY teaching creative writing and journalism.
She was sweet enough to share with me some of her wild finds to make a sandwich—ramps, in the form of ramp butter. I know, you’re thinking ramps were in season two months ago. But here’s the problem: I was a little busy last month, with the engagement and my father passing away and editing the 300 Sandwiches book and all. But lucky for me, Ava made me a small batch of butter that froze wonderfully in my freezer, and also some of her ramp-infused olive oil, both pictured below. Last week, I scooped a small section out to cook some eggs with, and made egg sandwiches on nutty wheat toast with greens. The ramp butter was still tasty, and gave the eggs an earthy richness to them that ramped up (ha!) the flavor of breakfast.
On foraging, it’s wild (ha, again!) how you can find fresh herbs and veggies in, like, that small park in Brooklyn you thought was only good for pigeon waste. Or your friend’s backyard. Or the side of a highway. You just have to know what you’re looking for, it seems. Ava says to start with something you know, like dandelions.
“Dandelions are nutritious, and so many parts of the plant are edible—from the toothed leaves to the yellow blossom to the ivory-colored root,” Ava told me. “Plus, almost anyone can recognize them. I call them the ‘starter’ wild edible.” Maybe E and I should go looking for some tonight.
Before you go looking for dinner in your friend’s backyard, Ava says to do some research so you don’t eat something that’s not intended to be eaten. “Go out foraging with an expert first—someone to show you what’s edible vs. a potentially poisonous lookalike. These days there are so many people across the country who run tours, so they aren’t so difficult to find (hint: Google the name of your town + foraging walks).” Then, Ava says read a few great guidebooks—–she recommends Euell Gibbons’ “Stalking the Wild Asparagus,” Ellen Zachos “Backyard Foraging,” and Leda Meredith’s “Northeast Foraging” just to name a few.
Want to learn more about urban foraging? Check out Ava’s blog here:
Ramp butter (see Ava’s recipe here)
whole wheat toast
handful red onion, chopped (optional)
Scoop out about a half a tablespoon of ramp butter into a skillet. Crack eggs into skillet. Scramble eggs, stirring eggs over low heat with wooden spoon until cooked. Toast bread. Scoop on eggs, greens and red onion. Serve.
Ava’s book, “Eating Wildly,” is on sale here!by