New Delhi: Foraging food started as a vogue some ten years ago –a push back to proliferating globalisation and homogenisation of food. What appeared as a passing fad has over the years become a powerful addiction for the gourmet. Traders are constrained to employ professional foragers to cope with the demand.South Africa and Australia are home to many renowned restaurants with food inspired by the tradition of foraging. Australian Bush foods and ingredients from Outback form.
Most chefs content themselves with adding a foraged twist to traditional recipes. But then there is a growing breed of innovators who accept foraging as their creed.
In Denmark, Faviken’s chefs use only food foraged from 20,000 acre grounds that the restaurant has access to. Much of the fare comprises dishes smoked dried pickled fermented, salted or burned.
Alex Atala in Sao Paulo is one of the leading exponents of going back to indigenous roots.
His food celebrates his ancestral Amazonian culture. Miyamasou, a Japanese restaurant with Two Michelin stars is famed for its Kaisiki (evening meal) offering an exceptionally eclectic selection covering a wide range of foraged ingredients from fresh flowers to wild bear. Another restaurant utilises everything from edible clay, corn, quinoa mahogany clams and horse mussels. There are other eateries specializing in foraged foods in different continents.
How easily we forget that Indians in the rural hinterland have for generations subsisted on gatherings from the forest. Moringa (drumsticks) are widely used in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
In Andhra Pradesh, gongura (Roselle) leaves are the wild-growing greens that add a distinct sour tang to most savoury dishes. In Nepal, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and in the northeastern states linguda/lingdi (fiddlehead ferns) are relished as a stir-fried vegetable or in pickled form
Wild honey continues to be gathered from hives precariously perched on the ramparts of the thousand-year-old fort at Kalinjar in UP.