My first memories are of foraging for edible plants: miner’s lettuce, thimbleberries, blackberries, wild radish blossoms, chickweed, and filaree. As a child, I once opened a restaurant for my friends along the creek that ran through my property. You entered through an opening in the thick brackish ferns. There was a redwood stump table adorned with wildflower bouquets. In my memories those dishes, served on thimbleberry leaves, were the most lovely dishes I’ve ever plated.
In my very young adult years I took care of my mother as she died of cancer. I ran the house and cooked for her. I tried my hand at preparing all the wonderful things she had made for me growing up. After her death I ran away to Florence, where I studied art and culture and landed myself in the home of a wonderful Italian cook. I soaked in everything. I learned about the wild plants of Tuscany. I ate at farms and in the homes of everyone who offered. I have lived there several times since, always with great cooks who have taught me their regional specialties.
Although my experiences have taught me a lot about the science, love, and art that goes into creating a delicious meal, I still strive to recreate the magic of that first dinner party. The beauty of those wild plates, dotted in leaves and wildflowers.