On April 23, 2017 a little less than a year after our journey to New Jersey and to Tama Matsuoka-Wong’s world of foraged flavors, three of the original Gohan Society foragers set out again on a wild culinary expedition. This time, their journey was a little closer to home.
Northern Manhattan enthusiast Alexis Agliano Sanborn promoted cross-borough cooperation and invited “K” and “G” uptown to try their luck foraging at Inwood Hill Park with a cooking session to follow. This park, spread over the northernmost swath of land in Manhattan, is a rugged and wild terrain, notable for its high peaks and low valleys.
Remembering the lessons that Tama had taught them the year before, they kept their eyes out for things like chickweed and garlic pennycress. Yet, the terrain did not seem to support this type of vegetation. Their luck changed when they found a thicket of the familiar-looking garlic mustard. Growing in heaps, they filled their bags full and were cheered by this auspicious sign. Next came wild chives and garlic. Traveling upward, the three took the cliff-side path up to the top of Cock Hill Fort Site, where overlooking the valley below and the Bronx beyond they found yomogi (mugwort) and dandelions in abundance.
After a warm and sunny afternoon in the field, it was now time for cooking. Returning to Alexis’s apartment, the team set to it! After all the ingredients had been thoroughly washed and trimmed, the group decided on the following menu: yomogi rice, wild chives omelet, wild garlic and garlic mustard pesto, and tuna salad flavored with yuzu. The meal was produced seamlessly, with each member of the team championing a different dish and responsibility. The results were fresh and delicious.
Throughout the day, the group reflected on their experience foraging last year and the teachings that Tama had bestowed on them. Truly, foraged flavors are all around us, and this is the time of year to embrace the fresh, vibrant, and sometimes bitter flavors which the great outdoors has to offer.
1 ¾ cup white short-grain rice
¼ cup brown rice
1 cup coarsely chopped yomogi
- Combine the brown and white rice into a large bowl and rinse until the water runs clear.
- In a large pot (or rice cooker) combine the rice with 2 cups cold water and the chopped yomogi.
- Cover and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook until the rice has a matte texture. Do a taste test to ensure the rice is fully cooked.
- Mix the rice and yomogi together well. Serve warm.
Alexis Agliano Sanborn is one of The Gohan Society’s super volunteers. She has lived in Nagoya, Tokyo, and rural Shimane Prefecture as a student, intern, and working professional. She received her Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies and Japanese from UC Santa Barbara and her Master’s degree from Harvard University in Regional Studies of East Asia.
She is working on a proposal for a school lunch-themed cookbook, a recipe blog (kabocha-kitchen.com), as well as illustration and stationery designs. Find out more at www.alexisaglianosanborn.com.