I’m not claiming that gathering mushrooms is going to save us from starvation; we aren’t starving. Gathering mushrooms is going to make the difference between a dull meal and a delicious one. And as I sit by candlelight eating pasta with a chanterelle cream sauce, I am grateful for this winter bounty. I’m grateful because it mitigates the meanness of existence and allows me to forget the wolves at the door: Even in these hard times, we’re lucky. We eat like kings.
I’m grateful not to be in such financial hardship — and perhaps relatedly, I’m not a big forager myself. But in recent weeks, have been introduced to a sort of rogue urban foraging. I’ve harvested from a patch of overgrown mint in front of a nearby apartment complex, and lemons from a very abundant lemon tree no one else seems to give any love.
In L.A., urban foraging’s been popularized by an artist collective called Fallen Fruit who, among other things, created maps of neighborhood fruit trees for would-be urban foragers. Fruit overhanging public property is technically public property and free for anyone’s picking — so Fallen Fruit and its fans have celebrated local fruit with urban foraging walks, fruit jams, and other fruity events.
Are you an urban forager? If so, you might like this MNN collection of urban foraging recipes
— from Nasturtium garden salad to lemon yogurt pie. Want to be a forager — but don’t know how? Entire books have been devoted to the topic, but for newbies who just want a quick intro to foraging for beginners, I recommend picking up “The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America’s Underground Food Movements” by Sandor Ellix Katz for a crash course on foraging and other cost-effective diner-getting strategies.
And in case you’re inspired by Felisa’s article to go mushroom foraging: Remember that some mushrooms are very poisonous! Follow these mushroom foraging tips
to stay safe and healthy while collecting your delicious dinner.