Survivalism in the kitchen

Learning about Italian food foraging, and how to forage successfully. Recent trends in Italy's food foraging, and if this trend is doable for you.

By Andrea Grignaffini
Mon, Feb 22

tagAlt.Foraging herbs cuttings knife Cover

MOVEMENT TOWARDS FOOD INDEPENDENCE?


The ability to survive in nature’s wild areas by learning to exploit natural resources, paired with the appearance of well-known pandemics and increasingly apocalyptic scenarios, has a growing number of followers around the world and Italy. This philosophy of self-reliance has not just impressed a certain fascination on devoted Bear Grylls fans who’d never miss an episode of Man vs. Wild on television - the movement however also has techniques that are relevant in the Italian gastronomic arena as well.

In fact, foods available today in our markets are the direct results of man-made manipulations.  These edits and modifications to natural foods has changed the foods inherent essences, resulting in the loss of not just natural taste but also the essential nutritional principles of foods.  In changing their appearance, flavor, aromas, we’ve changed their role in our diet, and their ability to perform following their essential characteristics.
 

TODAY’S FOOD MUCH DIFFERENT FROM THE PAST

The result: as consumers, we typically can expect to be eating lower-quality, lower-functioning products as a rule.  When compared to the same ingredient in its wild format, we can look to that natural state as being the ingredient’s integral, essential example.   Following this principle, we can understand the importance of wild food as an indispensable source of nourishment for every Italian survivalist, an universe that contains planets that might appear similar but are miles apart from each other.

 

THE BREAKDOWN ON FORAGING

A common practice throughout this universe is Foraging, the art of gathering food from wild, edible elements that grow in environments with as little contamination as possible.  The forager thus learns to identify wild flora, recognizing each plants’ properties and characteristics.  This ability to recognize and utilize plants in their more natural states is a skill well known in the world of Italian gourmet chefs, who use this skill to their advantage, surprising their guests with unusual ingredients and preparations, as in the case of Italian superstar chef Terry Giacomello's "edible pine cones.”

 

BUSHCRAFTING

Bushcrafters, on the other hand, reference wilderness skills dating back to the Trapper lifestyle and practices of the 19th century, following hunters and gatherers with nomadic behaviors.  Trappers sustained themselves and their families with a collection of vegetables and plants found in nature and traps that were capable of capturing animals, and subsequently using cooking techniques with ancestral roots.

One of the bushcrafter’s most intuitive cooking method is Spit cooking. Here, a green tree branch has its bark removed, and is then used to pierce the vegetable or meat.  With this technique, the food may be cooked successfully near the flames of a likely outdoor fire in many an campsite in Italy.

A more elaborate cooking process also employed by bushcrafters is underground cooking.  Here, heat-absorbent stones are heated in the embers of fires, while a deep hole is dug directly into the ground nearby the fire.  Once the stones have been sufficiently heated, the nearby hole is filled with alternating layers of embers and heated stones.  A middle layer of food wrapped in thick green leaves is then added into the hole, to be covered with a last layer of heated stones and embers.  The hole is then covered back with the earth.

This cooking method, while laborsome, is an ideal preparation method for meats, where the low cooking temperatures ensure that the meats’ natural liquids are retained within its pieces, resulting in juicy, soft food selections.

 

PREPPERS

At least, we encounter Italy's Preppers (from the English, to prepare).  This group has dedicated themselves to facing any kind of world event that would lead to the eventual collapse of functional society.  The guiding light of this outlook implies that as people and members of society, we are hopelessly reliant on technology and progress and are stuck in a fragile, whimsical, and easily broken system limiting our natural abilities and self-reliance.

Preppers don’t propose a total abandonment of the modern Italian system, instead finding a way to utilize the positives of both states of behavior.  By exploiting low-tech tools, they believe a bridge between contemporary solutions and the methods of past years can be created, making a comfortable lifestyle possible for everyone without relinquishing all control to a system that has proven to be grossly fallible in the face of natural disasters or man-made crises.

The finest example of this philosophy is the Preppers introduction of the solar oven.  In its most basic version, users need only cardboard and aluminium to assemble the oven, allowing anyone to enjoy cooked dishes, like a lovely roasted chicken, in just over three hours of cooking time.  not that different from our own electric home ovens after all.

 

A HAPPY MEDIUM ENDING IN DELICIOUS FOOD

In the end, when we’re able to enjoy the fruits of any prepared meals, the result is usually satisfactory.  You’ll find that sensation is further enhanced when your dinner has cost you all the energy, effort, and research employed in using one of the techniques mentioned above.  If you look closely at the techniques and beliefs above, these tactics are not just potentially useful, but also immensely satisfying.

 

Love learning more about how to use the land and its resources?  Be sure to investigate how you can live more in tune with nature in Italy - begin by eating seasonally, and check out the Mamablip article on how to do that here and here.

If eating and cooking in a slightly more productive way is more your bag, don’t miss Francesca Ciancio’s article here on The Consumer Brand - learn to support small companies that meet your consumer interests and desire for a cleaner world.

Don’t forget to register now for the Mamablip newsletter, where you can stay up-to-speed and even ahead of the trend on new recipes, wine news and Italian culture.  Check out the sign-up forms below!



All About Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

An ingredient used daily, have you ever given its origins much thought?

11/08/2020
By Nina Bernheim

Regional Italian Food Basics - Part 1

Regional Italian Cooking - What Exactly Are We Talking About? Part 1

26/11/2020
By Elaina Borer

Aromatics and Herbs - Spice Things Up Part 1

How does something so small make such a big impact?

27/11/2020
By Nina Bernheim

Italian Vegetables Part 1 - All about Seasonal Eating!

Learn what makes the Mediterranean Diet a successful eating style. A closer look at the vegetable side of things as we learn to cook like real Italianos.

30/11/2020
By Nina Bernheim

Italian Vegetables Part 2 - Cultivation & Freshness

Farming is fundamental to Italian culture. Where are vegetables grown and why use only fresh seasonal ingredients? The importance of the Mediterranean Diet.

30/11/2020
By Nina Bernheim

A Journey in Food-telling: Lexicon

How do we define the world of culinary lexicon? Learn what’s on the gastronomic frontier of culinary vocabularies, and how we communicate tastes via words.

07/12/2020
By Lele Gobbi

Do Sustainable Panettones Exist? Yup, wanna know where?

Where are sustainable authentic Panettones sold? Where to find local Italian specialty shops famous for their ethically-produced Panettone and desserts.

15/12/2020
By Francesca Ciancio

Christmas Food Trends for 2020 - What’s New this Year?

What was the biggest food trend of 2020? Did it live up to the hype? What do our team of food experts think about this year’s this food trend?

16/12/2020
By Sara Porro

Rantan - a Restaurant to Get Away from It All

How can you leave those city blues behind? Learn about getting some R&R in the Piedmont countryside. how can the Rantan farmhouse work for you?

18/12/2020
By Sara Porro

Pasta - Where Would We Be Without It? - Part 1

Italy is famous for a lot, including Pasta. Pasta is in Italy’s culinary DNA, while its roots are foggy. Expand your Italian know-how with Pasta history!

30/11/2020
By Nina Bernheim

Christmas Strenne: History of the Year's Best Gift

Explore the world of Christmas gifts here in Italy. Stuck for ideas on gifts this year? Learn from the best, and give a truly unique gift this year.

23/12/2020
By Francesca Ciancio

Pasta - Fundamentals of the Italian Diet - Part 2

The magic of pasta continues in our discovery of this essential Italian ingredient. Where does Pasta come from and what role does it play in Italian cuisine?

30/11/2020
By Elaina Borer

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in my Heart and Kitchen - Part 1

What is Extra-virgin olive oil? How is extra virgin olive oil made? Learn the full history of EVOO, and loads more about a favorite Italian ingredient.

31/12/2020
By Elaina Borer

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is in my Heart, Always - Part 2

Keep learning about the benefits of Italian extra-virgin olive oil. Test some tricks and taste your way to your favorite authentic extra-virgin olive oil.

31/12/2020
By Elaina Borer

Italian Cured Meats Win the Day - Part 1

Everything about Italian Cured Meats - how to shop for the best, how to enjoy Italian cured meats, and how to keep your salumi in prime condition.

02/01/2021
By Alexandria O'Keefe

Italian Cured Meats for the Win - Part 2

A deeper look into speciality Italian charcuterie. Learn more about how Italian cured meats are produced, and why Italian salumi are a cut above the rest.

02/01/2021
By Alexandria O'Keefe

Italian Citrus Fruits - Rays of Sunshine - Part 1

Everything about Italian Citrus, and how Italians cook with it. Learn about beautiful Italian citrus, and what role it plays in regional Italian cuisine.

04/01/2021
By Nina Bernheim

Italy's Rays of Sunshine - Classic Citrus Fruits - Part 2

A look at Italian citrus fruits and why they're important in classic Italian cuisine. Learn more about how Citrus fits into traditional Italian cooking.

04/01/2021
By Nina Bernheim

The Delicious Breads of Italy - Part 1

Check out Italy’s finest breads across the land. Discover genuine Italian bread and find inspiration to make classic Italian bread shapes.

06/01/2021
By Elaina Borer

Ruché of Castagnole Monferrato: Piedmont's Outsider Grape

Learn about Piedmont’s rebel grape, Ruché. Let’s investigate Piedmont’s exciting vines in Castagnole Monferrato, resulting in a glorious local wine. 

14/01/2021
By Lele Gobbi

Florence: 100% Art and Culture, but with a wine-spin

What makes Chianti wines so special? Learn where Chianti is born and how its labels were developed. Know more about the wines you love to drink!

15/01/2021
By Lele Gobbi

San Brite, a Welcome Gourmet Return to Nature's Bounty

Get inspired to live each day to the fullest. San Brite’s the place for a superb meal reflecting your cooking philosphies in a beautiful mountain setting.

21/01/2021
By Sara Porro

The Consumer Brand - Hear about this EU food movement?

How is The Consumer Brand unique in farm-to-table services? Investigate how you can be part of this consumer-driven food and wine requests movement.

25/01/2021
By Francesca Ciancio

Home Bartending - Dry January is Over!

Aperitivo Time in PJs is within grasp, so learn what you need to add to your home bar. All the secrets of home bartending success at your fingertips! 

02/02/2021
By Sara Porro

Borgo di Fizzano: A Stunning Chianti Landmark

How a classic Tuscan family winery has expanded visitor services. New generations in storied Tuscan family reshape and redefine classic Tuscan wine-making.

04/02/2021
By Francesca Ciancio

A Taste of Italy at Carnival-Time

Traditional Italian Carnevale-time foods to sweeten the holiday. Learn about regional differences in authentic Italian Carnival sweets.

19/02/2021
By Sara Porro

What is Mindful Eating? How to Be at Peace with Food

Learn how to practice Mindful Eating and techniques for stress-free living. How Mindful Eating makes your healthy eating lifestyle more productive psychologically.

26/02/2021
By Francesca Ciancio