The Frontal Cortex


I’m no forager. Once, I took a foraging class in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and managed to find varieties of poisonous mushrooms that even the instructor had never encountered before. (They looked like porcini mushrooms to me.) Nevertheless, I’ve gotten very excited this year about the wild chives that grow in a nearby field. I trust myself to forage for these chives because their oniony reek is unmistakable, allowing me to easily distinguish between the chives and the interspersed leaves of grass that are there just to trick me. If I were smart, I’d sell my harvest in the Union Square Greenmarket as “baby ramps” and charge $30 a pound.

I cook these chives very simply. First, I put on a pot of boiling water. Then, I go read for twenty minutes. When the water is ready, I add some pasta. (Any long pasta will do, although I’m partial to the chewiness of bucatini.) Then, I get out my good olive oil (purchased from DiPaolo’s Dairy, the greatest Italian food store outside of Italy) and saute three or four cloves of minced garlic. Don’t let it burn. When the pasta is ready, I drain it from the pot and reserve a generous 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water. (That starch is precious!) I add the pasta to the pan and toss it with the garlicky oil. Then, I add all my wild chives, which I chop into half-inch lengths. I add some of the reserved pasta cooking water, some salt and pepper, and cook for another 15-30 seconds. The pasta is served with lots of salty pecorino romano cheese and final drizzle of olive oil.

PS. Don’t have wild chives on hand? Move to rural New Hampshire! Or try a mixture of scallions, supermarket chives and parsley.



  1. #1 jb
    April 25, 2008

    Or move to suburban Maryland. Glad I didn’t do a more thorough job of weeding the flower bed! Off to collect some. Thanks Jonah!

  2. #2 ted
    April 25, 2008

    Jonah – Do you get your bucatini dried? Where? I can never find it.

  3. #3 Barney
    April 25, 2008

    Ramps are pretty easy to identify once you know what you are looking for (just make sure that they smell oniony when you break a leaf) and are good sauteed with garlic & oil on their own or with pasta. They should be popping up pretty soon up here (Lebanon, NH) and maybe a little sooner down there.

  4. #4 RUDY!
    April 26, 2008

    I had to page up on my rss feed reader twice to make sure I was reading Frontal Cortex and not Eat Me, Delicious… interesting post, nevertheless.

  5. #5 Barney
    April 26, 2008

    Ramps were up today and they turn out to be delicious if you toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then grill them over hot coals until wilty (1 minute or so). I imagine you could do the same with wild chives if you were careful not to let them go too long.

  6. #6 jfrancis
    April 26, 2008

    Buttercups and Roses

    April is not
    kindred spirit
    lying in the backwash
    of holiday cheer,
    April is sudden death
    of winter.

  7. #7 jfrancis
    April 26, 2008

    I love winter!

  8. #8 shannon
    April 27, 2008

    note to foragers: it’s a good idea to wash the crap out of stuff you harvest from any urban area…i used to steal sprigs of rosemary off a median strip in phoenix, az and was rather proud of myself until i realized that they were very likely drenched in poison.

  9. #9 Rachael
    April 28, 2008

    Oh, I wish I could forage. But even our own back yard our carefully planted garden is likely to be contaminated with lead paint and other pollutants, plus, one can never rule out that it has been peed on by Friday’s late night drinking crowd. Ah, New Haven : )

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