First Ways: Why are you passionate about foraging?
Hank Shaw: It makes me feel like a more complete person. Knowing the name of something is a powerful thing. I get a rush from being able to walk around anywhere in the country and see edible plants all around me. It feels like I can see something no one around me can, which is exciting.
But it extends beyond that. Ask yourself something: How many ingredients that we normally cook with here in the United States actually come from North America? Turkey, cranberries, wild rice, pecans, jerusalem artichokes. The list is short. My goal is to highlight those native ingredients and show that they deserve a place in serious, modern cooking.
FW What’s your new book about?
Hank Shaw: My hope is that people interested in the ultimate frontier of the whole locavore-organic-sustainable movement will use the book as a guide. It is part primer and part cookbook; two-thirds is about fishing and hunting. I’ve lived all over the country, so readers from Maine to Florida, New Jersey to California will be able to use this book.
FW: How is the book different from your blog?
HS: There will be a lot of the same topics and foods covered — shad, black walnuts, duck hunting, etc. — but I go into far more depth. I also have a long chapter on home winemaking, which I have never published on the blog.
FW: What is your favorite foraged food? (I know — tough one!)
HS: I am fascinated by mushrooms, although I do not write about them in my book (that’s for a second one). Fished? Tough to say, but tuna is pretty up there. Hunted? That’s easy: Ruffed grouse. The king of gamebirds. Ducks would be a close second.
Hank’s a fellow forager and former news reporter living near Sacramento, California. You can see lots of recipes and resources on Hank’s blog here and preview his upcoming book, “Hunt, Gather, Cook,” here.