Some months ago, Lounge columnist Sandip Roy sent me a proud picture of the haul from his garden—one tiny carrot and a potato. He had spent a year lavishing love and compost on his garden, and though the harvest was small, he took such joy in it. The pandemic years have turned quite a few of us into balcony gardeners, growing tiny tomatoes, fresh spinach and herbs that we gleefully take to our kitchens. If you have ever done this, you are part of a niche but growing culinary trend of harvesting and consuming food immediately. Chefs have taken it a step further with foraging, or picking foods directly from the wild and cooking them lightly to retain the flavour and freshness.
In our cover story this week, we explore the idea of foraging for food, a trend that is also a reaction to the homogenisation of food due to globalisation. As with many trends that have emerged in the past two years, the pandemic has had a role to play. People who returned to hometowns, who chose to seek out a simpler, slower life, or who picked healthier lifestyles, have realised the value of our rich cultural and nutritional heritage.
Wild edibles have been part of indigenous community diets for centuries but as the world moves towards packaged foods, this knowledge is dying out. Viewing these as gifts to be preserved, chefs and micro entrepreneurs have started curating food trails, walks and meals to help people understand the food cycle and the impact of consumption on the earth. They are careful to choose only what grows in abundance and what the indigenous communities do not require. It is an opportunity not just to forage, but also forge connections with landscapes and people.
You can also choose to take holidays that put you in the heart of nature and traditional knowledge while enjoying every luxury, including food that focuses on the local and the seasonal. We visit one such home-stay near the Kudremukh National Park in Karnataka’s Malenadu, where the food is prepared with produce from the kitchen garden, or foraged from the forest. And as always, we have plenty of suggestions on what to watch, wear, read, eat and enjoy this weekend.
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