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Forage, Harvest, Feast

A Wild-Inspired Cuisine

By Marie Viljoen


One intrepid cook’s exploration of her urban terrain, with over 500 recipes for every season!

“Marie Viljoen is the real deal. . .  Forage, Harvest, Feast is a joy to read, an inspiration, and a culinary adventure.”―Amy Stewart, author of New York Times bestseller Wicked Plants 

In this groundbreaking collection, celebrated New York City forager, cook, kitchen gardener, and writer Marie Viljoen incorporates wild ingredients into everyday menus and special occasion fare. Motivated by a hunger for new flavors and working with thirty-six versatile wild plants―some increasingly found in farmers markets―she offers deliciously compelling recipes, including variations on:

  • Cocktails
  • Snacks & Appetizers
  • Entrées
  • Desserts
  • Breads
  • Preserves, Sauces and Syrups
  • Ferments, spices, and salts

From underexplored native flavors like bayberry and spicebush to accessible ecological threats like Japanese knotweed and mugwort, Viljoen presents hundreds of recipes unprecedented in scope. They range from simple quickweed griddle cakes with American burnweed butter to sophisticated dishes like a souffléed tomato roulade stuffed with garlic mustard, or scallops seared with sweet white clover, cattail pollen, and sweetfern butter. Viljoen makes unfamiliar ingredients familiar by treating each to a thorough culinary examination, allowing readers to grasp every plant’s character and inflection.

Forage, Harvest, Feast―featuring hundreds of color photographs as well as cultivation tips for plants easily grown at home―is destined to become a standard reference for any cook wanting to transform wildcrafted ingredients into exceptional dishes, spices, and drinks.

Eating wild food, Viljoen reminds us, is a radical act of remembering and honoring our shared heritage. Led by a quest for exceptional flavor and ecologically sound harvesting, she tames the feral kitchen, making it recognizable and welcoming to regular cooks. 

“The photos are beautiful, and most of the recipes are simple enough that you don’t need a culinary degree to follow them, but at the same time they ooze creativity. . . . It’s not just a book of recipes, it’s a celebration of local flavors. You can feel the love on every page. There are no other books like it―an amazing source of inspiration and a must-have for anyone remotely interested in wild edibles.”―Pascal Baudar, author of The New Wildcrafted Cuisine 

Reviews and Praise

Foreword Reviews

"The renewed interest in foraging wild foods has inspired many new cookbooks, but none is as comprehensive as Marie Viljoen’s Forage, Harvest, Feast: A Wild-Inspired Cuisine. Viljoen is a writer and wild foods evangelist who packs nearly five hundred recipes for thirty-six wild plants into her well-illustrated, playfully written book. 

The emphasis is on plants that can be sustainably harvested or which have potential for commercial growing, such as lamb’s quarters, serviceberries, and nettles. Gardeners will be doubly delighted to learn how to transform traditional weeds and invasive plants into tempting dishes. How soul-satisfying to turn the chore of weeding out destructive garlic mustard and pesky purslane into harvesting for pesto or a refreshing gazpacho.

While the author stresses that her cookbook should be supplemented by field guides and other plant identification resources, she does include information about when plants are ready to harvest, botanical history and lore, and pointers for home and small-scale cultivation. An important bonus are the frequent descriptions of the amount of labor involved in harvest or preparation of recipes; most recipes are simple enough for novice cooks, but it is helpful to know up front when their preparation will require lengthier or trickier cooking or abundant amounts of elbow grease.

Extensive chapter and recipe introductions are well researched and fun to read. The author relates her own experiences and experiments, invoking many a humorous phrase along the way, as when she wisely advises cooks to carefully pit stone fruit 'if you are worried about tooth lawsuits' and rhapsodizes about a Cucumber and Green Prickly Ash Salad that is 'a smooth, crisp, sweet-and-sour flavor bomb.'

Recipes range from classics like Elderberry Syrup to boldly flavored concoctions like Bayberry Back Ribs and Pokeweed with Anchovy Butter. A smattering of sophisticated cocktails round things out, including Black Ice (fir vodka, black chokeberry syrup, and vermouth) and milkweed-based cocktails like Migration and The Monarch.

Forage, Harvest, Feast would be a great addition to the shelves of any outdoors enthusiast, small farmer, gardener, or adventurous cook." 

“Marie Viljoen is the real deal. In the heart of New York City, she takes her passion for food and the natural world and makes something extraordinary happen. In her hands a basket of weeds and berries becomes the centerpiece of a delicate, refined, and elegant lunch or a refreshing aperitif. Her curiosity about wild plants and foraging has taken her around the world, but in this book she proves that she—and her readers—can find both sustenance and delight just around the corner. Forage, Harvest, Feast is a joy to read, an inspiration, and a culinary adventure.”—Amy Stewart, author of New York Times bestseller Wicked Plants and The Drunken Botanist

“Marie approaches her work with a rare combination of gifts—a deep knowledge of botany, the adventurous spirit of a forager, and most importantly for her readers, a keen appreciation of how to fill your life with good friends and delicious, locally sourced food.”—Stephen Orr, editor in chief of Better Homes and Gardens; author of The New American Herbal

“Marie has highlighted plants with unique and superb flavors, with straight-talk instructions for how to realize their culinary potential. For the widely occurring and well-known wild edibles, she has uncommonly good recipes. But Viljoen also digs up some more obscure foraged treasures, revealing gustatory possibilities that have remained underexplored and largely unappreciated. She does this with a vigilant eye for the common sense and sustainability that make foraged food a viable feature of the best kitchens.”—Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager’s Harvest and Incredible Wild Edibles

Forage, Harvest, Feast takes wild edibles to their rightful place in the heart of every flavorful kitchen. Marie’s passion for unlocking the deliciousness of nature and, at the same time, treading lightly on the earth fills every chapter of this lovely and timeless cookbook.”—Tama Matsuoka Wong, coauthor of Foraged Flavor

“Wild plants are one of the most natural things to eat. It’s how we should live. Marie’s book shows people how cooking plants from the wild is as easy and fundamental as learning your ABCs.”—Mads Refslund, cofounder of Noma; coauthor of Scraps, Wilt and Weeds

“This book represents by far the most impressive culinary exploration of wild edibles in the Northeast, though it is truly not limited to that region. The recipes can be easily adapted to similar plants in your area. The photos are beautiful, and most of the recipes are simple enough that you don’t need a culinary degree to follow them, but at the same time they ooze creativity. Marie even invites you to create liqueurs, pickles, sauces, and countless condiments. It’s not just a book of recipes, it’s a celebration of local flavors. You can feel the love on every page. There are no other books like it—an amazing source of inspiration and a must-have for anyone remotely interested in wild edibles.”—Pascal Baudar, author of The New Wildcrafted Cuisine and The Wildcrafting Brewer

“I love this book! Marie Viljoen’s passion for the last remnants of wild foods around us is a call to action. Reconsider the scraggly shrubs, weeds, and trash plants under threat from overzealous landscapers and urban planners. Foraging the wilds connects us to a forgotten and misunderstood piece of human history that’s still here today, and it speaks to the resilience of ordinary folks who look around and see plenty when the dullards see weeds. We are weeds. Arise!”—Richard McCarthy, executive director of Slow Food USA

“In her excellent cookbook—and ‘this is a cookbook . . . not a field guide,’ she implores—author Marie Viljoen reminds us that unless we live in a vacuum, we are all surrounded by wild food. Until now there has been a dearth of creative resources to help foragers cook what they find in the wild. Rich with both novel and traditional approaches to culinary recipes, Viljoen also takes us on an enlightening journey that includes cocktails, cordials, and other curiosities that strike me as, well, wildly creative. A well-researched and thoughtful book that conjures Thoreau and Gibbons but with a decisively urban spin. A wide-eyed joy to read.”—Evan Mallett, author of The Black Trumpet


“Whether you’re a novice or experienced forager, gardener, or cook, this book will open your eyes—and taste buds—to the wonders of wild plants. With Marie Viljoen’s masterful and friendly guidance, you’ll not only make enticing, flavorful recipes, but you’ll also cultivate a deeper relationship with the world around you. A truly lovely and substantial book.”—Emily Han, author of Wild Drinks and Cocktails

“A sensitive and delicious journey and a celebration of our lands.”—Gill Meller, award-winning author of Gather, group head chef at River Cottage 

“Marie Viljoen is one of the most beautiful humans I have met and a gifted immigrant who knows more about America’s edible ecosystem than anyone I know. She has opened my eyes—and will open yours through this encyclopedic and intensely appealing collection of recipes, unprecedented in scope—to the delectable wild world surrounding us: common milkweed, day lilies, Japanese knotweed, pokeweed, spicebush, sweetfern, and so much more. After reading Forage, Harvest, Feast your walks in both city and country will never be the same. And neither will your cocktails or ice cream (spicebush and rhubarb, juniper and strawberry, pawpaw!). Marie’s books have changed my life, and this cookbook will change yours. It is essential reading for anyone remotely interested in new ingredients or the flavors growing under their feet.”—Gabrielle Langholtz, author of America: The Cookbook; culinary projects director at the Vilcek Foundation

“Humans are designed to eat a little of a lot, not a lot of a little; diet diversity is key to our health. Viljoen understands that, and her Forage, Harvest, Feast is a fantastic guide to ‘wilding up’ your meals—and doing it in style—whether you live in the countryside or the concrete jungle.”—Hank Shaw, winner of a James Beard Award; author of Hunt, Gather, Cook

“From simple snacks to exquisitely thought-out recipes, Marie Viljoen’s gourmet cookbook helps readers grow familiar and comfortable using the wild abundance around their homes and neighborhoods. With obvious passion for the adventure of new and exciting culinary flavors, she offers wise advice on harvesting and preparing these glorious wild plants for food.”—Katrina Blair, author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review—

"Viljoen, a former garden designer, shows readers how to take advantage of the tremendous culinary opportunity that foraged foods offer. Through 500 recipes, she explores the culinary possibilities for 36 wild plants, most of which, like dandelions, quickweed, honeysuckle, ramps, and pawpaw (if you live in the South) are easily found. Infusions with spirits, namely the neutral vodka (try fir twigs, Viljoen suggests), rum (black cherries) or the already herbaceous gin (bayberry, elderberries) are easy entries, as is brandy (persimmon). Viljoen offers an array of recipes for each plant—21 for field garlic, and another 18 for ramps alone. Such dishes as lamb’s quarter and beet leaf phyllo triangles, a dandelion pad thai, pawpaw ice cream, and a citrusy spicebush and tequila skirt steak are sure to whet readers’ palates. As long as readers heed Viljoen’s explanations—typically related to sourcing, preparation or, in the case of ramps, sustainability—they’ll be set. The book’s imaginative yet practical recipes make it one of the best resources of its type. It’s a terrific entry point for would-be foragers, as well as experts interested in making the most of their bounty."

Booklist, Starred Review—

"The most radical reaction to industrialized cooking has to be the current revival of harvesting edible wild plants in local environments. One of the earliest experts in this sort of anti-agriculture is New Yorker Viljoen. She has led many to scour the abundant wild growths of urban areas and turn them into inventive cuisine. Reading through the hundreds of recipes in this book leaves the classically trained cook at a loss since so many of the ingredients lack recognizable culinary names: fir, knotweed, serviceberries, spicebush. Yet, these recipes also feature all sorts of familiar meats and fish as basic elements of a dish. Much of the text lays out the necessity for foragers to distinguish the edible from the potentially toxic, and this requires some experience. Lest anyone think that this sort of cooking is for the abstemious only, Viljoen concocts dozens of liqueurs and unique cocktails sure to star at anyone’s party. A valuable addition to any forward-looking cookbook collection."