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

Overview


The minute Didi Emmons, a chef from Boston, met Eva Sommaripa-an almost 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 rural refuge and herb-infused Shangri-La, but the two women forged a lasting friendship that has blossomed and endured over time.

Wild Flavors follows a year at Eva's Garden through the seasons. It not only ...

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Overview


The minute Didi Emmons, a chef from Boston, met Eva Sommaripa-an almost 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 rural refuge and herb-infused Shangri-La, but the two women forged a lasting friendship that has blossomed and endured over time.

Wild Flavors follows a year at Eva's Garden through the seasons. It not only showcases Didi's creative talents using absolutely fresh ingredients, but introduces a whole cast of uncommon but sublime garden plants (cardoon, African basil, calaminth) and wild edibles (autumn olive, wild roses, Japanese knotweed). The author provides growing or foraging information for each of the forty-six 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, allowing the ingredients and their bright flavors to shine through.

But there's more. Through her stories about Eva (and often about herself) Emmons also shares some of the valuable lessons she has learned about maintaining a sane and healthy lifestyle in an increasingly hectic world, putting the emphasis on community, thrift, conservation, and other time-honored virtues. This book will appeal to a whole new generation of readers who want to connect to the earth and, at the same time, transform their palates-including cooks who want to try their hand at gardening and gardeners who want to broaden their kitchen knowledge. Wild Flavors is a book and a cookbook that celebrates the interconnectedness and beauty of nature, farms, animals, and ourselves.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/17/2014
Emmons offers an adventurous approach to flavor in this earthy collection of recipes inspired by organic farmer Eva Sommaripa. The book begins with some "basics" that introduce supplies Eva deems crucial to her cooking endeavors—pressure cookers, certain mixers, strainers, and even a built-from-scratch pizza oven. Sections on salvaging, bartering, and preserving home grown ingredients offer a plethora of ideas and recipes including such treats as a "master recipe" for herb butter and spruce shoots—"Pop a shoot in your mouth," Emmons suggests, "and you will be rewarded with a minty pinelike tartness that is as much fun to play with in the kitchen as lemon, lime, sorrel, or rhubarb." The analysis of many edibles covers their culinary uses, health "virtues," and how to forage for and store them. There are intriguing discourses on sorrel, dill, dandelion greens, and even raw milk. Emmons adds instructive insights on when to add herbs to a dish and an interesting aside on how "funky foods create stronger stomachs." This is a truly wild romp through new flavors and undiscovered herbs and plants. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

Booklist-
Greens, herbs, and root vegetables play a critical role in cooking and offer distinctive flavors to fish, meats, and other vegetables. What would tomatoes be without basil? Chicken without tarragon? Chef Emmons recounts her collaboration with Eva Sommaripa, a farmer whose knowledge of edible plants has made her a legend in the Northeast. For this cookbook, Emmons follows the seasons. Stored winter root vegetables such as beets and parsnips find complementary flavors in juniper berries when no greens appear. Spring prompts the first verdant shoots and offers plenty of opportunity for foraging in budding forests. Summer brings basil, fennel, and exotic lemongrass. Fall's kale copes with the first frosts. To prepare all these natural and garden greens, Emmons offers recipes embracing vegan, vegetarian, and meat options. Full-color photos help novices identify unfamiliar vegetation. This is a particularly valuable resource for cookery reference collections for its in-depth treatment of both wild and domestic edible green plants.

"Chef Didi Emmons' intimate portrait of Eva Sommaripa, one of New England's most eccentric and charismatic growers, has lessons for us all. From arugula and basil, to spruce shoots and stinging nettles, this book tells you how to prepare, store, save and eat just about everything. Highly recommended!"--Jane Black, IATP Food & Community Fellow

"Wild Flavors is a down-to-earth book rich in ideas and inspiration for people seeking to eat from their gardens and local areas. It's filled with mouth-watering recipes and valuable cultivation, shopping, and storage tips. But more than anything, this book is a celebration of the ethics and wisdom of Eva Sommaripa, the farmer whose herbs and outlook transformed Didi Emmons and prompted her to write this book. Eva has manifested throughout her life the kind of aspirations many are just now coming to hold. May this sharing of Eva's story help empower more people to realize their dreams of becoming more connected to the land and other creatures."--Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved

"Award-winning food writer and Boston chef, Didi Emmons, has written a charming cookbook. Wild Flavors chronicles a year spent with farmer Eva Sommaripa on her incredibly forward-thinking farm, complete with 150+ innovative, explosively flavorful recipes that Didi developed to help you take full advantage of the best your farmer's market or natural foods market has to offer. You'll never look at produce quite the same way."--Steven Raichlen, author, Barbecue! Bible, and PBS host, Barbecue University

"Didi Emmons has long been a hero to me. She teaches, tempts and transforms all of our senses, even our common sense. Let her artistry open our eyes and taste buds to the wild flavors all around us. Enjoy!"--Frances Moore Lappe, author of EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want

"Didi Emmons, a local rock star of vegetarian cuisine, has written a lovely and unique cookbook, jam packed with yummy recipes for using everything a plant has to offer -- the bulbs, stalks, leaves, flowers and fruits. This book fills an important niche in the cookbook world."--Melissa Kogut, executive director, Chefs Collaborative

"If you are a city person, like me, with a secret yen to forage for wild greens, Wild Flavors is an inspiration. Read it, and you will want to harvest, share, and eat everything you find. Emmons's friend Eva, a committed and skilled forager and grower, not only creates delicious meals from home-grown foods, but also creates a community built around wild foods as a way of life. Best, Emmons's recipes are lovely and easy to follow."--Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies ,and Public Health, NYU, and author, Food Politics and What to Eat

"Wild Flavors ushers in a new era of cookbook writing. Much more than a collection of ingredient-driven recipes (brilliant, rustic yet modern, recipes), Didi also serves up engrossing stories peppered with practical tips, tools, and tidbits for foraging, growing, and preparing seasonal fare. This timely book not only underscores Didi's immense talent as an innovative chef, it showcases the joys of connecting with our food from seed to table."--Bryant Terry, author, The Inspired Vegan

"With brilliance, love, and a sense of humor, Didi Emmons captures the wild and wacky spirit of Eva Sommaripa and her world of herbs. She walks you through Eva's garden and into her kitchen where you'll want to dive in, roll up your sleeves and start cooking with lovage, purslane, and all kinds of plants you may never have heard of before, but probably could find in your own back yard."--Jody Adams, chef, Rialto Restaurant

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603582858
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/19/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 547,600
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


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 Flavors after 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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Table of Contents

The basics
1. Winter : salvaging
2. Spring : community
3. Summer : bartering
4. Fall : preserving and conserving

Publishers Weekly-

"Emmons offers an adventurous approach to flavor in this earthy collection of recipes inspired by organic farmer Eva Sommaripa. The book begins with some ‘basics' that introduce supplies Eva deems crucial to her cooking endeavors—pressure cookers, certain mixers, strainers, and even a built-from-scratch pizza oven. Sections on salvaging, bartering, and preserving home grown ingredients offer a plethora of ideas and recipes including such treats as a "master recipe" for herb butter and spruce shoots—'Pop a shoot in your mouth,' Emmons suggests, 'and you will be rewarded with a minty pinelike tartness that is as much fun to play with in the kitchen as lemon, lime, sorrel, or rhubarb.' The analysis of many edibles covers their culinary uses, health ‘virtues,' and how to forage for and store them. There are intriguing discourses on sorrel, dill, dandelion greens, and even raw milk. Emmons adds instructive insights on when to add herbs to a dish and an interesting aside on how 'funky foods create stronger stomachs.' This is a truly wild romp through new flavors and undiscovered herbs and plants.”

Read More Show Less

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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