Writer Ava Chin is the former “Urban Forager” columnist for the New York Times, as well as a slam poet. She has written a book about her adventures foraging for wild plants in New York City, “Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal.” She took the audience on a photographic tour of some of the wild plants available to New Yorkers, including amaranth, mulberries, morel mushrooms and lamb’s quarters, a highly nutritious plant which, in her words, tastes like “spinach turned up to 11.”
Many of these plants have been eaten since ancient times, she noted, and are used routinely by cooks in other countries. Finding and using them can help connect us to our past. She read a poem, “Wun Yee. Muk Yee. Does It Grow on Land or in the Sea?” about her grandfather’s cooking, and about finding ingredients that he cooked with growing across the city. “In literature, food represents something else, like culture, family, even love and loss,” Ava said.