In the fast-paced world in which we live, the tendency is to resort to pre-packed ready-meals available off the supermarket shelf as a matter of convenience. Even when we buy ingredients off the shelf, there is a question hanging over their nutritional value.
Depending upon where you live in the UK, there could be a multitude of ingredients on your doorstep that you could literally pick from their natural habitat and, after a quick swill, pop straight into the pot.
Foraging for your ingredients
Even the judges for TV shows, like The Great British Menu, place a huge emphasis on the sourcing of local ingredients.
The onus is on the chefs to go out to their local region, find suppliers for the ingredients of their four-course competition dishes who are then invited to the prestigious event, for whichever worthy cause is deigned for that year – even to the extent of celebrating the indigenous British ingredients, themselves.
Why the sudden interest?
There has been a sweep across Europe with the top chefs looking to promote their home-grown ingredients.
Two-Michelin starred chef Rene Redzepi has incorporated his native Danish wild plants as the basis for the Noma menu in his Copenhagen contemporary restaurant.
What are we talking about when we refer to foraged foods?
If you want to learn to cook as these top chefs – other contemporaries utilising this en vogue method are British chefs Mark Hix and Simon Rogan – you need to have an inkling about what you’re looking for to put on the plate.
There is no exact ‘list of ingredients‘, it is very much down to what you can pick out of the ground, scoop from the hives or pick from trees and bushes.
Honey is a great traditional local ingredient – the bees collect pollen from plants nurtured in nearby grounds, plants that grow only in certain regions and variants of fruits and berries that change their flavour as they suit the geography of the land.
Many of the chefs who propogate this method do offer cookery courses that will inherently incorporate foraged foods. Not only through their own restaurants and websites but by their registration with the Great British Chefs association.
It is worth contemplating, if you’re looking to add more unprocessed supermarket to your diet and cook freshly on a more regular basis.
Just look to the ground, tress and bushes around you for your inspiration.