After giving this project some very serious thought, I've decided to join this grand experiment.
However, my participation in the event is greatly complicated by the fact that I live in a fourth floor apartment in Queens, New York.
A little background on me: I spend much of my time writing on my blog, Four Pounds Flour, where I document my adventures in "historic gastronomy." I research, recreate and consume historic recipes. I love creating something that looks, smells, and tastes just like it did hundreds of years ago. And to me, that's the next best thing to time travel: it's a window to the past that lets you understand a little bit about another way of life. I first learned how to cook these recipes over a wood stove at my first job in high school. Later, they inspired my thesis, a restaurant reinterpreting historic cuisine for a contemporary audience. Now, I do it for the daily adventure.
Sometimes, I spend a week immersing myself entirely in the foods of a certain time period, culture, or social movement. These culinary experiments have included the miserable (but fascinating) Tenement Diet and the bowel-moving glory of the Battle Creek Diet.
So, of course I was fascinated when Mark proposed the Starting from Scratch challenge. But living off of what you hunt, find and forage is a hell of a lot easier in rural Ohio than it is in the middle of New York City.
Here's my plan, thus far:
- Forage. There is a great deal of forage available in my neighborhood, and I've had some experience gathering these wild plants. Thanks to a nearby housing project with a large, unkempt lawn, I have ample access to violets, dandelions, wild sorrel, and lamb's quarter. I can start gathering these plants in early May, and store them up for the big week. There is also a pair of Mulberry trees nearby, and I know there are more wild edibles in Central Park.
- Gardening. Currently, I have a windowbox on my fire escape (illegally) that gets about six hours of sun. The only thing that grows there is mint, which I cultivate soley for the purpose of summer mint juleps. That is the extent of my personal outdoor space. I plan on speaking with my landlords, and finding out if they would be opposed to letting me plant a small garden on the roof. If that fails, I'm going to poll my friends and clients and ask them to donate outdoor space. Perhaps I can grow enough food in tiny patches spread out over the five Bouroughs.
- Fishing. Hunting in New York is definitely a no-go, because there ain't not way I am eating rat. But I do live right on the east river, and I see Latin-American dudes fishing there all the time. I was pretty good at fishing when I was a kid, but we just put them back in the river at the end of the day. My family seldom ate seafood, so i have no clue how to gut and clean a fish. And can I get mercury poisoning from NYC fish? Probablly.
Those are my ideas. Other suggestions?