Taste of chicago day 1

Today was my first day in Chicago. Didn't sleep last night in the hopes of actually making it onto a 6am flight out of SFO, so it was a bit of a long day. Im here for 4 days to help out Sunny Savage, a forager who has a TV show that is in post production. Shes on a publicity tour at the moment, and asked me to come along to help her cook/forage.  We'd actually never met before I got into today at noon, which was a bit random I suppose, but everything seems to be working out so far.

We spent most of the day today foraging for ingredients for Sunnys presentation tomorrow and Saturday at the taste of chicago. It was a lot of fun seeing the diversity of plants out here, and I am amazed at how few I recognized.  The change in climate changes things in really big ways, and all the standbys, wild radish, nettle, etc...were no where to be seen. We did find some good stuff though. The one I was most excited about was wild ginger. (which we actually have in SF, but I had never foraged it myself before):[gallery]

Another plant that we have around SF, but I've never been sure of the identification is Lambs Quarters. You see plants that are very similar everywhere in the Bay Area, but many of them are poisonous, so its very important to have a proper ID on this plant. I'm told that it tastes like spinach (full disclosure, my pics weren't very good for this plant, so I lifted this online:

Notice the shallow viens and silver/white sheen, those are both defining characteristics of lambs quarters. Be careful though, because it looks very close to some very poisonous look alikes. Another really cool plant we found today that I have definitely never seen in SF is nodding onion (below).  I imagine the name derives from the "nod" of the top, for some reason it reminds me of swans. The bulb is really a lot closer to green garlic than onion, really great plant. Well....thats it for today. Ill be here for the next couple days, hopefully finding some new plants. Tomorrow Sunny is giving a presentation at the taste of chicago main stage, should be fun, cooking and what have you.