Don’t those words excite you?
They definitely excite me and make me feel like a food explorer.
Before I begin, let me tell you what are wild foods and why are they super special to me.
What are Wild Foods?
Wild food is food i.e.plants, trees, seeds, fruits, roots, tubers that grow in the wild and are edible, have nutritional and medicinal benefits.
Why are they special to me?
Wild foods have been an integral part of my life.
As a child, I spent most of my childhood in my hometown and coming from a family that was into farming it meant helping out at work which meant spending mornings moving through the mountains to collect mangoes, cashews, kokum. It also meant that while collecting those I could listen to my grandfather’s tales( on his childhood, food back then, farming, etc.) while munching on wild berries/fruits that I got along the way.
Over the years, exploring the wild especially during my trips back home and during my travels. In the past two-three years, I’ve been working with local ingredients ie. many indigenous & local ingredients and local farmers. In short, doing my cents to promote what I love.
So when a friend told me about the wild food festival, I knew I had to be there. To explore, to learn more and to meet more people who shared a similar thought process and are doing something about it.
So let me tell you a little about my experience at the wild food festival-
Wild Food Festival:
This wild food festival was organized by “Ooofarms” they mainly work with rural communities promoting and preserving indigenous wild food.
The event started with the traditional and classic “tharpa” music and dance followed by a very informative session by Mr. Sanjay Patil, who has done a lot of work in the field.
Sanjay Sir spoke about several local ingredients and indigenous species of plants and fruits which have been an integral part of our food system since ages and which have been forgotten over the years both in cities and many rural areas. They still remain to be an integral part of the rural and Adivasi community.
His talk was followed by a couple of other speakers who spoke about farming, the systems, their projects to develop and promote these indigenous wild foods. It also included a session by chef Thomas from the Bombay canteen who spoke about incorporating these wild and indigenous species of vegetables and fruits in their menu.
After these informative sessions, we went to look at the display of wild foods. These consisted of wild fruits, vegetables, flowers which are edible and have multiple medicinal qualities exhibition. Apart from that, they displayed warli paintings, musical instruments like tharpa etc. The best was interacting with the locals and understanding their food habits, customs etc.
What followed next was the much-awaited wild food lunch.
The lunch consisted of a range of wild foods served in leaf plates known as the “patravali” and bowls known as “dronas” along with “kulhads”.
The lunch consisted of jowar bhakri, red rice, black rice; a range of gravy preparations like the masoor, the colocasia masoor dal. They also had raita and the mahua halva which is a distinct chutney with nutty, earthy flavor. Apart from this, they had a range of greens like math, pendhara, titu, takla, mahua etc. They had a simple dessert made of red rice, milk, and jaggery which as per me was the star of the meal.
What I loved most about the lunch was the sheer fact that the meal had minimal use of fats/oils, no overpowering spices, and minimal ingredients. That way you could actually get the distinct taste and flavor of every individual ingredient and cherish it.
The next time they arrange such a workshop, please do attend it.