High summer and our latest crush...
Posted by the Cake Shop
In the second instalment of Recipe Book Worship, Terry shares her latest food writing infatuation.
Once again, a book I found by chance on the proof shelf has my heart aflutter. It’s called The Wilderness Cure – and its author, Mo Wilde, is my new crush.
The Wilderness Cure is one of those books that is many things at once, and that’s what makes it such a brilliant companion. It’s a cultural history of foraging and its impact on our culinary evolution as a species; it’s an almanac of the changes that the seasons bring in Mo’s home of West Lothian; it’s a personal diary of the pledge that she made in 2020 to live only on free, foraged food for an entire year. It’s a trove of foraging tips, cold hard fact, history and recipes or nods to recipes both new and vintage, showcasing Mo’s expert knowledge of plants, fungi and seaweeds. It’s an exploration of the disconnect that lockdown exposed in so many of us, and the hope that this experience might change us in some way.
Above all, it’s a call to action. Mo makes a strong and moving case that foraging is neither a privilege nor a luxury. She writes:
Foraging is not a novelty. It is not a middle-class culinary experience nor the province of billionaires. The foragers that I know from around the world represent the complete diversity of our species. Nature is mother to us all. She doesn’t care if we are poor, rich, a person of colour, white, female, male, binary or any other. After all, she loves diversity. Amongst fungi there are over 36,000 genders – some of us are just coming to terms with the fact that there may be more than two!
Foraging is a subject near and dear to my heart, and while it’s always a joy to find a comrade or teacher, there’s something in Mo’s writing that goes beyond my love of the subject. Reading The Wilderness Cure coincided serendipitously for me with the Feminine power exhibition that’s currently on at the British Museum. I’ve definitely felt a resonance with the people that have come into the Cake Shop after visiting the exhibit, and Mo’s strong, poetic and inquisitive voice gave me the key to that fellow feeling. She is quite the warrior – but she's also a modern medicine woman, and her writing calls to those reconnecting with ancient practices in order to find new ways of surviving in the present.
The Wilderness Cure comes out on the Summer Solstice – as you well know, I love any excuse for a solstice celebration. You can find more of Mo’s writing and recipes on her blog, and on 28 June you can catch her giving a fermentation class with Sandor Katz, another of my all-time icons.