Friday, January 25, 2019

Wild Foods Cookbook--oldie but goodie!

I like sharing food and cooking online with my husband, in our Starving Artists series--but don't be too surprised if I go back and mine my copy of The Wild Foods Cookbook, my first big cookbook!  LOTS of my favorites in that book, and translating them to non-wild ingredients (or offering the choice) would be a piece of cake.  Literally. ;-)

A lot of it can translate to our current interest in Paleo/Primal eating, as well as my AIP diet...I like to tweak old recipes to fit current needs...

I wrote this in 1986 or '87, based on many of our old family recipes--I grew up eating wild mushrooms, greens, strawberries, persimmons and other goodies. I still enjoy them!

Funny, this is one of those sagas that most authors experience at one time or another. Remember the 70s? Despite the old joke, I know you do, if you're old enough! Euell Gibbons' "Stalking the Wild Asparagus," Billy Joe Tatum's "Wild Foods Cookbook and Field Guide," or my favorite, the Petersons' A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Hey, everybody loves the various Peterson Field Guides, and this one is no different!  Excellent work by father and son team Roger Tory Peterson and Lee Allen Peterson.)

I mentioned to my editor at the time that I'd grown up on wild foods, and she decided it would be GREAT if I did a cookbook.

I said "um, the 70s are over..."

But I was carried along by her enthusiasm, and sure enough, worked for well over a year on the book--recipes, field guide, appendices that included common wild edibles and the parts used, a section on poisonous plants to avoid, bibliography, index, and what seemed like a thousand illustrations! 

Finally I sent in the manuscript, and began that long wait for the final OK...which never came! They let my editor go, reorganized the whole department, moved the department head (who had also been really excited about the project) to a new section, and told me it was a no-go. At least I didn't have to return the portion of the advance I'd already received, after working for a year...

So after I licked my wounds for a while and stomped around the house, I went looking for a new publisher...too much work just to forget about, and I've discovered the way to survive in this business is perseverance! (Maybe that's just plain old stubbornness, but it works.) I must have sent that manuscript to 12 publishers before it found a home! The Missouri University Press was really interested, courted me, took me to lunch at a lovely hotel, and then...decided it wasn't regional enough! (Um...I'd picked virtually everything in the book in Missouri, except blueberries and cranberries...)

So off it went again, to one last publisher--The Stephen Greene Press, part of Viking Penguin at the time--and success! I loved my editor there, we worked together beautifully, and the book finally came out in 1989 (sans the field guide, which got cut for space reasons)...

And yep, the 70s WERE over, sure enough. It's still a darn useful book, but hippies have gone pretty corporate for the most part, and even organic farming is big business, now!

Funny old world...still, some of us seem to be coming back around to the simpler life, and Real Cooking.

The book's long out of print, I only have one copy, but a few aftermarket sellers still offer it...oddly, some think it's worth a tad more than I do!

It did get me thinking about more recipes, though...and those "thousands of illustrations," especially since I've been making a lot of soup... ..;-) 


NOTE: I wrote this post originally in 2010...just found it in my draft folder and updated it a bit!  I hate to waste that much work...

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