Thursday, November 19, 2009

John Wright - Hero in a bad hat

You don't think this guy looks cool, do you? I don't suppose you're supposed to find him cool. He looks like someone's dad. He probably is. And that's not exactly the most stylish hat in the World. He also sort of looks like one of those teachers that always volunteers to go on school camps and excursions, and knows lots about native flora and fauna but no one ever listens to him. But he doesn't mind.
But this is John Wright. And I love him. He is a foraging expert based in the UK. You can see him regularly on many of Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall's River Cottage programs. He also wrote the River Cottage books on mushrooms and 'the edible seashore'.
For some reason, I get a real kick out of watching this guy on the telly, finding edible things on the side of the road, in hedgerows, under bridges, in the middle of seemingly desolate land. What could be cooler than discovering delicious edible things wild and free? It's so very natural, very hunter gatherer. Maybe there's some sort of cave woman instinct going on in there; 'he hunt food, feed young, good breeding.' Hm.
Foraging IS popular in the Melbourne restaurant scene too. We have stinging nettles and samphire and wild herbs all over the place. We'd have blackberries too if they weren't sprayed with poisons all the time. But there's so much to be gathered and eaten. I even wrote him a gushy e-mail. Yes, stupid fan girl, I know. But he wrote back! How nice is that? Here he is making TV shows, writing books and taking people on mushrooming tours, and yet he took the time to write back to little old me. This basket full of wild strawberries will the cover of his upcoming book on Hedgerows. Mouth watering.
Go to the River Cottage website to have a look at his books and River Cottage DVDs he features in. I do like Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall too. Don't go thinking I still have a thing for old men like I did when I was a teenager (it's a phase. Let's not go all Freud OK?) I do love Morrissey and even though he freaked me out in Sweeny Todd, I still love Alan Rickman. But really, you must stop reading into things.


  1. Here in Daylesford, we've always had the most incredible mushrooms growing in the pine forests around town, they are delicious, big and meaty. But last year the local community centre ran a course about mushroom-picking. The next thing you know the mushrooms were being sold to tourists in the local farmers markets at $60 a kilo. This Autumn, when we went hunting a for a few in the forest they were all gone, because of the way the greedy people picked them. I agree, foraging for wild food is wonderful, but it has to be for people's own consumption, not for commerce, It makes me so mad!

  2. That is terrible! Now that people have re-discovered foraging, there need to be new laws protecting hunting areas. In the UK they have foraging laws I heard? You can only pick a certain amount, in certain areas, specific times of the everything has a chance to germinate and grow again. That's really awful. Can you complain to the council about it?



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