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Oct 11, 2006 02:21 AM

Literally foraging for food in Prospect Park

This past Sunday, I went on a foraging walking tour of Prospect Park with "Wildman" Steve Brill, whose website lists walking tours all over NYC and the surrounding area ( It was pretty wild to be pulling chickweed off the ground and chomping on it, not to mention the hawthorne berries, the black walnuts, the burdock root, the garlic mustard, and on and on. It adds a whole new meaning to the phrase, "eating locally." Anyway, the food was good! Some of the greens reminded me a lot of what I pay $4/quarter lb. at the farmers' market :) I made a wild salad the next night, with a little red lettuce, radishes, and pickled eggplant, which made for a great, sharp, fresh salad.

Here's the salad:

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  1. o funny - I was there too!
    Dinner was maitake carbonara (mushroom sub'd for pancetta), and I made black beans with epazote that I still can't believe was growing in Prospect Park.
    I still haven't cooked the burdock root tho . . .

    The outdated schtick and childcare issues of the tour (fair warning to anyone considering going: Wildman comes with a toddler now) aside, we were really happy with what we learned and excited to connect with a body of knowledge that was common until just recently...

    1 Reply
    1. re: pitu

      How funny! Now I'm so curious to know who you were. And good to note the toddler issue.

    2. I'm not surprised the schtick is outdated--I did a foraging tour with him back in 1989! The dinner my friends and I made from our haul was excellent.

      I can't believe he's still around and doing those. More power to him.

      I remember really enjoying my tour. I'll have to check out his prospect park one. And I guess many of us old enough to go foraging in the 80s come with toddlers now. I know I do!

      3 Replies
      1. re: missmasala

        I did a tour with him in '86 in Central Park. Only thing was I was an undercover Park Ranger. He got busted by the cops for destroying Park property (the story was carried by the press all over the world).

        I wouldn't eat anything plucked from a City park where rodenticides are applied quite frequently and liberally.

        1. re: FastEddie

          A good Japanese friend of mine once got a handcuffing, followed by a trip to the station and a very expensive ticket, for picking up ginko nuts off the ground in Central Park. Utterly idiotic (since the nuts are just going to lie there, rot, and get smelly anyway), but they can and will give you a ticket for collecting food in the parks.

          1. re: Woodside Al

            My friend says the publicity from the arrest is what actually got him fame, and that the public outcry led the Parks Department to allow him to lead these tours legally. He did tell us repeatedly to put our food away in our plastic bags, but there was nothing inconspicuous about the group digging vigorously away at a bed of burdock plants.

      2. AppleSister, you can send me a pm on my neighborhood site
        (thread on Noona - Korean restaurant - to keep this chow-related
        )I have the same user name there

        I'm pretty sure I know who you are from Sunday, but I don't think I should get into it here.

        About the Wildman and the toddler -- she's a lovely kid but kids take alot of time and attention and the focus is supposed to be the edible/medicinal plants in the park. If I ever did one of these walks again, I'd ask if he was going to be babysitting at the same time.
        Such a small kid is going to be sticking *everything* in their mouth, which is nerve-wracking when the focus of the tour is sorting what is poison from what is not!