Foraging for Ingredients (podcast)

Mar 5th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Articles, the show
Wild Asparagus Photograph Courtesy of Mallorca Photo Blog

Wild Asparagus Photograph Courtesy of Mallorca Photo Blog

Growing up, there was a woman in our town who was a forager.

She was a short, round middle-aged lady who applied a startling amount of clownish make-up to her jowly face.

This nature enthusiast wore black rimmed cat-eye glasses without lenses, donned molded plastic wigs–the kind little girls wore when they played dress up–and attired herself in what my brother John called “muumuu things” and red high top Converse sneakers.

She drove a boat-sized blue convertible, and would ride with the top down, the radio blaring classical music, and would occasionally remove both hands from the wheel to conduct the orchestra.

I don’t remember her name, but she was one of our town’s most recognized eccentrics.

I loved catching sight of the big blue convertible parked on the side of the highway near the forest preserve because I knew that she wouldn’t be far. She’d scour the roadsides harvesting wild asparagus, berries, and other edibles.

For the longest time, whenever I heard the word “forager” it always conjured images of her.

Foraging has a whole new “look” and meaning in 2011. While it still refers to hunting for wild asparagus Euell Gibbons (and plastic wig lady) style, the definition has broadened. More restaurants are beginning to hire foragers to develop relationships with food artisans, farmers and ranchers–locally and otherwise–in an effort to source the best possible ingredients for their recipes and, ultimately, their diners.

Valerie Broussard is one such forager, and is anything but eccentric. She is young, graceful, statuesque and charming. Valerie is a trained chef, and uses her food know-how and people skills to identify and obtain the highest quality products available for Trace Restaurant in the W Hotel in Austin, Texas.

Join me as I accompany Valerie on one of her Farmers Market foraging runs. Plastic wigs are optional.

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  1. This was wonderful, I can’t wait to try it!