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In this touching and informative memoir about foraging for food in New York City Ava Chin finds sustenance—and so much Urban foraging is the new frontier of foraging for foods and it's all about eating better healthier and sustainably no matter where you live Time named foraging the latest obsession of haute cuisine but the uest to connect with food and nature is timeless and universal Ava Chin aka the Urban Forager is an experienced master of the uest Raised in ueens New York by a single mother and loving grandparents Chin takes off on an emotional journey to make sense of her family ties and romantic failures when her beloved grandmother suddenly falls ill She retreats into the urban wilds where parks and backyards provide not only rare and delicious edible plants but a wellspring of wisdom As the seasons turn Chin begins to view her life with new foraging eyes—experiencing the world as a place of plenty and variety where every element from flora to fauna to fungi is interconnected and interdependent Her experiences in nature put her on a path to self discovery leading to reconciliation with her family and finding true love Divided into chapters devoted to a variety of ediblemedicinal plants with recipes and culinary information Eating Wildly will stir your emotions and enliven your taste buds


10 thoughts on “Eating Wildly Foraging for Life Love and the Perfect Meal

  1. says:

    This lovely memoir brings together two things that might at first seem to belong in different books urban foraging gourmet cooking and memories of a childhood broken home Ava Chin grew up in ueens with a single mother and learned to eat from her Chinese grandparents both of whom she loses over the course of the book A writing professor opined that Chin’s father leaving when she was a child was the central wound of her life and it certainly is what drove her to become a writer – she is now a professor of creative nonfiction and journalism at City University and also writes a New York Times columnThe other strand of the book however is wild food a new hobby Chin shared with a temporary love interest and has continued to develop – in Brooklyn and beyond She arranges her memoir by season and includes recipes in each chapter highlighting what ingredients are ready at the time field garlic wood sorrel oyster mushrooms mulberries and so on Cooking was a link to her Chinese heritage but also a way of putting her new foraging skills to use in everyday life She would go on to take first place at Brooklyn’s Good Food FestCompared to a lot of foodie lit this memoir is surprisingly thoughtful – Chin even weaves in a meditation theme lamenting the ‘monkey mind’ that so often keeps us from focusing attention on the task at hand As an amateur forager myself I was bound to find this interesting but I was consistently impressed by how successfully the author ties in other disparate subjects I hope Chin will write another ‘memoir with recipes’; hers stands apart from the crowdRead alikes• Edible by Daniella Martin• Keeping the Bees by Laurence Packer• Delancey by Molly Wizenberg


  2. says:

    I received this book in a giveaway through GoodreadsI loved this memoir In a lot of ways it reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle A Year of Food Life in that it gave me so much fabulous information about living off the land and eating locally but Ava Chin's story is her own and the common theme is merely food I love that she shares so much of herself and discovers along the way what has made her find such joy in foraging She seamlessly weaves her foodie knowledge in with stories of both her present life and of her pastI consider myself a bit of a foodie and grow a large garden and seek out natural organic grass fed heirloom and local foods as much as possible Foraging outside of my own yard I have a walnut tree and some fruit trees as well as the garden is something I've never really attempted Reading Chin's book makes me want to try it this year Not just for the financial reasons but for the thrill of the hunt as she so effectively describes Right after finishing the book I was headed to the store and had to buy some mushrooms after all the delicious talk about them I also have plans to make her hummus recipe soonThe copy I received was labeled as Advance Uncorrected Proof and I must say I found the book to be delightfully free of errors Too many books especially free kindle downloads seem to have skipped the proofreading and editing steps these days so this was niceI will definitely recommend this book to others and plan to share my copy with anyone in my book club who might enjoy reading it


  3. says:

    I loved this memoir I thought it was going to be a book on and wholly food and nature type movement but it turned out to be so much Her relationship with her grandparents reminded me so much of mine spending weekends together learning so much and receiving from them so much love and acceptance that it could only be considered pricelessLoved learning about all the different things that can be found in urban areas that we call weeds berries that grow wildly mushrooms and so much that people have used as medicine in the past Her heritage with her grandparents her grandfather in particular who was the cook in their family is the first to entice her taste buds and give her a life long love of foodLoved reading about this whole wild food movement foraging in Central Park and other nature preserves for little tidbits in which to build or add t a meal Contests groups a whole movement trying to get back to nature in whatever little way they can Now I can;t see myself foraging for food frankly I don;t know what I am doing much rooms are all the same to me I would just end up poisoning myself and my family but I love that people are doing this It may be something I take up in the future with some training if the opportunity presents itself Extremely interesting and well writtenARC from publisher


  4. says:

    Ava Chin’s memoir has forever altered my relationship with nature; as a city girl I finally grasp the concept of finding oneself in the woods The author forages through her past much in the same way she hunts for mushrooms tenderly with an almost worshipful respect for the delicate process of unearthing one’s true self; the hidden treasure lying buried under the debris of everyday existence She confronts the pain of her own past with language made stunningly brave in its simplicity and directness I was left feeling awed by her courageous honesty and thrilled by her story of self made redemption It was not long after that I found myself on my first solitary hike – and hardly a coincidence when I recognized wood ear then even in the dead of winter Ava has inspired me to look deeper than the surface both internally and externally and I have a feeling she will convert many an urban dweller to the joys of “Eating Wildly”


  5. says:

    Ava Chin was one of my sister’s best friends in junior high so it was really exciting to get hold of her memoir For the past few years she’s been writing a column called “The Urban Forager” at The New York Times so at least half of this book is about finding and cooking the plants that grow wildly in New York City’s parks recipes included It made me curious as to what’s growing here in my own backyard in Rockland but I can’t see myself joining Ava and her friends on any foraging treksThe better half of the book at least for me was the personal stuff Ava’s family and love life Foraging has become a trend amongst New York foodies and hipsters but Ava was raised with it Her grandfather born in China worked in many restaurants here in America and both he and Ava’s grandmother knew which wild plants were edible and what to do with them As a Chinese American Ava really was in the perfect position to bridge the two foraging culturesBut the foraging for food is really a metaphor for love Her relationship with her grandparents was the most loving and nurturing of her childhood; her mother was single busy and bitter at having been abandoned in pregnancy by Ava’s father So in many ways this book is a tribute to Ava’s grandmother “awesome to the end” It’s also the story of navigating the New York singles scene Boy am I glad I was spared Even if I didn’t know Ava I would still enjoy her book The story of her grandmother’s death was raw but gripping and the story of her encounter with feral bees was fascinating But the thing is I do know Ava and that makes the book even amazing I remember when she was thirteen talking about her dream of becoming a writer I had the same dream but I wouldn’t dare admit it in public Now she’s a writing professor who’s published her second book while I’m still dreaming about becoming a writer I also remember a time before Ava and my sister were close Ava’s grandfather worked at a local restaurant called the Lotus Inn My father often took us there Jews and treif Chinese food Oy vey My sister and I loved it for its interesting décor It had a big waterfall fountainwishing well in the foyer blowfish around many of the lights and best of all some of the tables were surrounded by straw huts like something out of Gilligan’s Island The hostess a beautiful Chinese woman whom we considered really glamorous stood in the biggest hut of all with the cash register and after dinner mints One evening my father had taken my sister our then best friend her mother and me out to dinner at the restaurant While we were sitting at the table Ava was standing with the hostess in her hut which seemed like a position of great privilege to me though for all I know she might have been embarrassed about it in front of her schoolmates Our friend’s mother said “You could learn so much from that girl’s experiences” And of course it was true We just ate in restaurants; we had no idea what went on behind the scenes Well now with this book we finally can learn from Ava’s life experiences And in all this time perhaps not that much has changed I buy my food at the supermarket while Ava is still closer to the source


  6. says:

    I was hesitant to start this book because I was afraid it would be one of those gimmicky life experiment things where the author decides to do something different or wacky for a while and then write about it Luckily it's not like that at all Instead Eating Wildly is a uiet and rather sweet memoir about forgiveness and letting go of the past while foraging for wild edibles such as mushrooms herbs and berriesI could really relate to the way foraging helped Ava Chin make peace with the difficult aspects of her life absentee father beloved grandmother's death romantic breakupsbecause I feel the same way when I go birding Something about being outside completely focused on your environment can be uite healing I hope this book inspires people to be interested in the natural world and would recommend it to armchair as well as active naturalists A good companion book would be Crow Planet Lyanda Lynn HauptI would not recommend it to someone wanting a practical guide or introduction to foraging because it's really of a memoir That aside my only reservation about this book is that the author completely glosses over how invasive and problematic some of these wild plants such as garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed are in the wild Perhaps in urban parks such as where she lives it is not so much of an issue But in the woodlands of Illinois for example garlic mustard is a terrible pest crowding out native wildflowers and plant foods for birds and insects So if you want to forage for garlic mustard I know where you can get TONS of it and no one will try to stop you just please don't bring any backI won a free copy of this book as a First Reads giveaway My opinion as always is entirely my own


  7. says:

    I mistakenly thought this book was a how to on foraging and was a bit disappointed when I realized it was a memoir However I found the author engaging and wanted to keep reading not only to find out what she discovered in the urban wilderness but also what became of the her and the people in her life This slim book is uite inspirational and optimistic Here is a sample of the author's philosophyI was talking on the phone to a producer for public radio several days before I was going to appear on a segment to discuss wild food I was standing in my bedroom watching the suirrels scrambling along the tree branches outside my window The producer had just asked me why I started foragingI hesitated for a moment Unlike many of the other foraging experts I knew I realized that I had entirely personal reasons for doing it'Forgaging reminds me that the world is a generous place' I said 'Even when things are topsy turvy I know that the plants will always sprout in the spring become lush in the summer and then grow dormant in the winter And the following year it'll happen all over again'The author's story and a recent mushroom foray emphasized to me how much is going on in nature right in front of me that I never notice because I am not really looking She calls it having forager's eyes If I can slow down and really look notice how things change everyday and appreciate all nature around me it can change my life Suddenly I do not feel isolated Instead there is a sense of belonging to the universe an almost mystical moment and I am one with the world and full of wonderSo I recommend this book to anyone who is curious about exploring nature outside your window and developing that sense of wonder


  8. says:

    This sensitive and thoughtfully wrought memoir had this city girl eager to tramp through nature in search of the treasures that might be lying in plain sight


  9. says:

    I started reading Eating Wildly on the train and was so engrossed I switched onto the wrong subway which meant I had time to read Ava’s story of finding nourishment in the unlikeliest of places by foraging for edible weeds in the city and even in the winter is entwined with a deep longing for love and connection that made my heart ache I finished the book the same evening and saw the world with different eyes the next day How often I’ve taken for granted the things that are always there How could we appreciate deeply what we already have? And where could we see potential in ourselves and others to shine? The next time I saw dandelion greens in the market I bought them and cooked them for my kids with a lot of love in my heart More at my blog in Dandelions for Dinner


  10. says:

    This is a beautifully written memoir that weaves together the practice of foraging with memory the search for love and the complexities of an ever evolving life While many of the other reviews focus on foraging I think they often neglect the important role that family and culture play in this book This novel highlights the struggles that 2nd generation immigrants face as they negotiate cultural s and a lifestyle often deemed 'American' Chin does an amazing job drawing the reader into her life and allowing us a glimpse at a rich set of people that we can relate toI am not a New Yorker but had just returned from a NY trip when I read this The writing provides you with such a visceral depiction of the different streets parks and backyards she visited I felt as if I could walk through these parks myself This is an excellent summer read that I highly recommend