The New York Botanical Garden is a museum of plants, an educational institution, and a scientific research organization. Founded in 1891 & now a National Historic Landmark, it is one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world. http://www.nybg.org/
Here’s a really great piece from NPR’s The Salt blog about the hidden toxins in some very common plants and fungi. I have firsthand experience with one of them, false morels, aka gyromitra.
I love morels. Love. As a kid growing up Upstate we had them growing in our backyard. Each spring brought a wildly delicious bounty. So a few years ago while living on the Lower East Side I went into a shop famous for supplying specialty mushrooms to the city’s chefs looking for morels. They were sold out, but they had these false morels, which I was told, “are just like them! You cook them exactly the same way!”
Well, I get them home and I’m about to start cooking them in butter for a pasta sauce, when something at the back of my brain tells me to look them up on the Internet. And that’s when I found out that you have to cook them in a very special waythat has nothing in common with regular morels, or they might metabolize jet fuel inside your body.
Boooooooy howdy. To this day I still won’t trust most foraged mushrooms as I consider myself quite lucky to have dodged that bullet. I know, I know, people all over the world have eaten them and survived, but I once related this tale to one of our mushrooms guys, and his eyes got really wide, he whistled under his breath, and said a whispered “wow, I can’t believe someone sold you those.” Yeah. That gave me the chills. ~AR
This tart stalk is big at farmer’s markets right now, including our own Greenmarket. But don’t believe the hand-me-down kitchen tales: your grandmother didn’t actually spur the global popularity of rhubarb with her famed strawberry-rhubarb pies. The rural favorite may have arrived on U.S. shores around 1820, but its history dates a bit further back. Like, five millennia back.
Rhubarb had a much earlier life in China, where it appears in writing as early as 3,000 years ago in The Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Classic. Though at that time it was less known for its piquant culinary qualities over its use as a reliable laxative.
Still down for some strawberry-rhubarb pie, though, if anyone else is baking. —MN