The Really WILD Food Guide

Interesting On-line Reference Works


There are some fascinating old online reference sources relating to food - but not necessarily about 'wild foods'. They often shed light on how people in the past coped with preparing food without the benefit of microwaves and frozen TV dinners, or preserving foodstuffs.

Located at: Making of America Books archive at University of Michigan

The Prairie Traveler: A Hand-book for Overland Expeditions
Randolph B Marcy; Trübner & Co., London, 1863.

You could say this was the 19th century equivalent of a modern survival guide for intrepid travellers crossing the American continent. It is a fascinating insight into how America's west was traversed and includes a few brief items on wild foods.... but also mentions things like managing stampedes, forging rivers, hunting, and what to do when you meet an Indian.

 
Foods
Edward Smith; D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1873.

Basically a dietry book which contains quite a lot of interesting historical pieces and backgrounds to many common foodstuffs, but only mentions the occasional item which can be truly called a 'wild food'.

 
Miss Beecher's Housekeeper and Healthkeeper: containing five hundred recipes for economical and healthful cooking etc...
Catharine Beecher; Harper & Brothers, New York, 1873.

Obviously lots of recipes - but more importantly the reader will get an idea of what cooking was like in the days before gas marks and electric ovens. Also contains 'recipes' for washing clothes and other domestic chores - so not a true cookbook. :)


Located at: Cornell University's Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (CHLA) collection, part of the A R Mann Library Project.

The Everlasting Pleasure: Influences on America's Kitchens, Cooks, and Cookery, from 1565 to the Year 2000
Kathleen Ann Smallzried; Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York, 1956

Some interesting background material - particularly 17th -19th century - on what Americans were eating. Has the occasional recipe / instruction.

 
The Spice Handbook: Spices, Aromatic Seeds and Herbs
John William Parry; Chemical Publishing Co., Brooklyn, NY, 1945.

 
Plants Useful to Man
Wilfred William Robbins & Francis Ramaley; P. Blakiston's Son & Co., Inc., Philadelphia, 1933.

 
Iroquois uses of maize and other food plants
Arthur Caswell Parker; Uni. of the State of New York, Albany, 1910.

 
The Story of Foods
Forrest Crissey; Rand, McNally, Chicago, 1917.

A layman's guide to food origins, with the occasional insight into production methods at the time of writing.

 
Foods, their origin, composition and manufacture
William Tibbles; Baillière, Tindall and Cox, London, 1912.

Really a biochemical/dietry analysis book but has sections on green vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts, with the odd passing reference to wild foods such as thistles, dandelions.

 
Culinary Herbs; Their Cultivation, Harvesting, Curing and Uses
M. G. Kains; Orange Judd Co., New York, 1912.

Mainly the usual culinary herbs but with one or two aditional items.

 
Home Life in Colonial Days
Alice Morse Earle; The Macmillan Company, NY & London, 1898.

Interesting section on food from the forest, and preparation and preservation of foods during colonial times but nothing on foraging.

 
Beverages, Past and Present; An Historical Sketch of their Production, together with a study of the customs connected with their use - Vol. 2
Edward Randolph Emerson; G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, 1908.

Volume 2 deals mainly with the European continent. Covers all sorts of beverages plus some insights into spruce beer and birch wine production.

 
The Book of the Apple: together with chapters on the history and cookery of the apple, and on the preparation of cider
H. H. Thomas; J. Lane, London, 1902.

Heavy-weight study of 'apples' by someone who obviously lived and breathed apples. Contains a handful of popular apple recipes of the period.

 
Foods America Gave the World
A. Hyatt Verrill & Otis Warren Barrett; L.C. Page, Boston, 1937.

Historical background to many of America's native foodstuffs. Has a small section on eating plants like jack-in-the-pulpit [toxic under normal circmstances], hog/yellow pond lily, pigweed, common milk-weed and reindeer moss.

 
Baking Flour Mixtures at High Altitude
Marjorie Petersen, 1930.

Rather technical but gives an insight into problems associated with baking at high altitudes and therefore might be of interest to anyone in the climbing community who has an itch to make their own bread.


Other interesting on-line reference materials:

Ethnobotany of the Menomini Indians, Huron H Smith, Mus. of City of Milwaukee, 1923

Useful Wild Plants of the United States & Canada, Charles Francis Saunders, Robert McBride & Co., New York, 1920

The Ethnobotany of the Gosiute Indians of Utah, Ralph V Chamberlin, American Anthropological Assoc., c1912

Ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians, Matilda Stevenson, Bureau of American Ethnology, 1908-9

The Compleat Angler, Izzak Walton, 1653

The English Physitian, Nicholas Culpepper, 1652

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