Wild Flavors: One Chef's Transformative Year Cooking from Eva's Farm

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Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011 - Cooking - 297 pages

The minute Didi Emmons, a chef from Boston, met Eva Sommaripa—a near legendary farmer whose 200-plus uncommon herbs, greens, and edible “weeds” grace the menus of many famous restaurants in the Northeast—something amazing happened. Not only did Eva’s Garden become Didi’s refuge and herb-infused Shangri-La, the two women also forged a lasting friendship that has blossomed and endured over time.

Wild Flavors follows a year at Eva’s Garden through the seasons. It showcases Emmons’s creative talents, featuring herbs (African basil, calaminth, lovage) and wild foods (autumn olives, wild roses, Japanese knotweed). The author provides growing or foraging information for each of the forty-six uncommon garden plants profiled, as well as details on prepping, storing, preserving, and health benefits. The wide-ranging recipes reflect the shifting seasonal harvest and are easy to follow, but best of all, Emmons shows us how these herbs, greens, and wild foods improve and transform the flavors in our food.

Emmons also shares some of the valuable lessons she has learned from Eva about maintaining a healthy, satisfying lifestyle, putting the emphasis on community, thrift, conservation, and other time-honored virtues. Wild Flavors is a cookbook that celebrates the interconnectedness and beauty of nature, farms, animals, and ourselves.


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User Review  - HeidiSueRoth - LibraryThing

Inspiring. Highly Recommended. A Great Winter Read. Rarely, a book comes along that changes how you think about food, cookbooks, and cooking. “Wild Flavors” is such a book. Didi Emmons created an ... Read full review

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Inspiring. Highly Recommended. A Great Winter Read.
Rarely, a book comes along that changes how you think about food, cookbooks, and cooking. “Wild Flavors” is such a book. Didi Emmons created an
incredibly useful book that is likely to be on my shelf and in my hands all year long.
The brilliant layout is part of the inspiration. She shares a useful overview of each highlighted plant. This includes insights into growing, harvesting, and using the specific ingredient. Are you or someone you know seeking a gardening-fix during the dark of the year? The book is a winner.
Likewise, those seeking unique recipes and fresh ideas are also re rewarded. Rarely-used herbs or unique applications focus completely on the quality of each ingredient. One of the greatest surprises came from the foraging pieces. I’ve no doubt my grandmother, a serious gardener with 2 acres producing food for her family, would get along well with Eva, pig weed was her bane. I had no idea it was edible. Today while walking my dogs I constantly looked for this weed, also known as gooseweed. Finding none, I’ll have to wait for trying those recipes.
Vignettes scattered throughout immerse the reader in the tumble of a year on this famous farm. Personality quirks, thoughts on this kind of lifestyle, and startling recipes get all your juices stirring. You may come away from your read with more questions than answers. Those who are truly interested in eating well while living with our planet rather than fighting it, you won’t fell your time has been wasted with the book.
I’m pleased to highly recommend the book. No doubt my copy will become worn and well-loved over the next year. Perhaps you want to share a year of your own with this unique food journey.
Heidi Sue Roth

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About the author (2011)

Didi Emmons began cooking omelets when she was ten and had her own catering business by the age of fourteen. After earning a BS in food service management at NYU, serving as a stagiaire (apprentice) to La Varenne (cooking school) in Paris and opening several restaurants in the Boston area, she opened Haley House Bakery Cafe, a non-profit cafe in Roxbury, whose staff are people transitioning from homelessness and incarceration. She has since begun a program at Haley House Bakery Cafe, called "Take Back the Kitchen," teaching Roxbury and Dorchester residents how to eat and cook healthfully.Her first book, Vegetarian Planet, was nominated for a James Beard Award. Her second book, Entertaining for a Veggie Planet, won the Best Book in the Healthy Category by the International Association of Cooking Professionals (formerly the Julia Child Award).Emmons also serves as a trans fat consultant for the Boston Public Health Commission, as well as a food consultant for the Boston Public School food service. She is currently collaborating with Dr. Walter Willett (author of Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy) on a project about inexpensive but healthy food.Didi was inspired to write Wild Flavorsafter she met Eva Sommaripa whose herbs and greens are widely coveted by Boston-area chefs. While she is revered for the unsurpassed quality of her produce, she is equally admired for her energetic commitment to a simple and environmentally conscious lifestyle.

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