Much before man knew how to hunt or farm, leave alone adulterate or pollute, he foraged for food. It was as organic as it could get. That’s one amongst many other movements that the culinary world is bouncing back to in its effort to go green again. Sustainable food is the watchword in today’s polluted milieu with more and more practices geared towards eating and cooking clean.
Into the Wild
Modern-day foraging is hunting for exotic wild flowers, seaweeds, ferns, mushrooms and root veggies to add that outlandish touch to culinary creations. Chef Rene Redzepi of world-renowned restaurant Noma in Copenhagen took the culinary art of foraging to new levels with his wild food initiative. He hopes that one day schools will teach children about “natural food” the same way they do about reading, writing, and maths. Foraging reconnects people with nature in a really positive way. Once you can identify plants, appreciate their culinary and medicinal values, you are left with a deep awe and respect for them. “We do forage but not every day. It is intense. We source things like bamboo rice, bamboo shoots, sea buckthorn and edible flowers for our Tasting Lab menu twice a month where diners get a 13-course meal with rare Indian ingredients,” says chef Sujan S.
Garden like a chef
The chef-to-farmer transition and vice versa is but natural. Their food sensibilities are so much in sync. Increasingly, chefs are growing what they cook, whether it’s microgreens in a small incubator or apples, lavender and honeybees in a vast rooftop garden. A lot of chefs from Delhi and Mumbai have turned farmers running small farms supplying organic produce to other chefs “You won’t believe what all we can grow in our backyard — right from microbeets to parsnips and artichokes,” says chef Sujan S. In-house culinary gardens are big. Be it terrace gardens in residential homes or herbariums at posh hotels, it gives a sense of reassurance about what you are consuming at the end of the day.
Know your source
A Delhi-based restaurant launched their earth menu giving details of all the farmers and organic stores they have tied up with and intricate geographical details of each dish on the menu. “You have to be absolutely transparent with your health-conscious customers to be trusted these days,” says chef Abhishek Basu. Globetrotting diners want to know everything — the way a certain food tastes, how the farmer grew it and how far it travelled to get to the plate. “We’d rather give our guests pure food that’s healthy for their bodies,” adds Basu who recently grew gorgeous rocket leaves and lettuce in discarded bathtubs.
Guess, it’s time to get those gardening gloves on!
-Foraging reconnects people with nature in a positive way. Once you know plants, appreciate their medicinal values, you are left with a deep awe for them.
-Diners today want to know everything — the way a certain food tastes, how the farmer grew it and how far it travelled to reach the plate.