The makings of a great meal are right in your back yard, across the fields, within walking distance. I'm talking about what grows naturally around you.
Here is the list of typical Oregon produce: mushrooms, hazelnuts, cranberries, berries of all kinds. Mushrooms and berries are cultivated commercially; the same for hazelnuts and cranberries.
Most of our fresh mushrooms end up in Japan, in fancy restaurants, before they reach the local markets. In every town adjacent to forests there is a We-buy-mushrooms-Shed at the end of a major road, seasonal places where crates and crates of mushrooms are brought in by local foragers. Sometimes we hear of a neighbor who went out after a rainstorm to pick mushrooms, and didn't return home. Many are those lost in forests when at the end of the day, too tired, too cold, they cannot find their way out. Morells, Chanterelles, Lobsters, grow in special places, under certain canopies known to the specialists who search and recognize.
The local college has mushroom recognition lectures and field trips for those hardy enough and curious enough to pursue this passion.
Cranberries end up on every body's table at least once or twice a year. I have a good friend who grows them commercially, sharing tid-bits about the hard work of growing such a fruit. Here, cranberries grow in bogs, below level, like vines, slowly turning red when the fruit is ripe. Then, the bogs get flooded, to better harvest the fruit, and people go in the bogs with waders, rubber pants and boots all in one, to rake the fruit and collect it for Ocean Spray. If you have not cooked with cranberries, check out the cranberry board website and get cooking. I keep a few bags in the freezer for days when I want something red and deliciously tart to kick start my mornings.
On Today's menu: Pasta carbonara with fresh mushrooms and peas and fresh greens from the garden; grilled local fish; cranberry-nut dessert.
What local foods are you eating today?