I’m back from vacation! We visited family and friends in the great state of Maine and had many opportunities to sample the local food. The land is quite bountiful! We had lobster gathered from the sea, along with clams and scallops. These paired very nicely with fiddleheads which were in season, lucky for us. A salad of tender young greens from a nearby farm made for a complete dinner. Many of the foods that we ate were from local sources and so were incredibly fresh. We could taste the difference.
Fiddleheads don’t appeal to everyone. My wife, who usually counts five green peas as a serving, had as many as six fiddleheads each time they were served. Props for her! My daughter, on the other hand, calls them disgusting and would not even try one.
I have great memories of our family driving out the the banks of the Sandy River and harvesting buckets of these young ferns. There are many species of ferns that show up in Maine and across the country, but this fern, the ostrich fern, is the only one that is edible, to my knowledge. It is certainly the tastiest one. You have to get right down on your hands and knees to get them, as they are ferns still furled, in a brown, papery, natural “wrapper.” Clumps of them are found, picked one by one, and the fern coils are washed to remove the husks and then boiled or steamed. My sister-in-law, Ginny’s secret was to boil them with a chunk of salt pork. Fiddlehead-lovers, like friends Brian and Janet, raved about the taste. Delicious! Nutritionally, they are light on calories, about 10 per ounce, and a good source of potassium, vitamins A and C, and fiber.
I found it extremely satisfying to enjoy the foods produced from around my birthplace. A vacation is always good for mind, body, and spirit, and the wonderful foods that I consumed seemed to make everything even better. I am recharged and renewed!