Into the Wild
My first introduction to Iso Rabins of forageSF was on television. On a recent episode of Bizarre Foods focusing on San Francisco, Iso took host Andrew Zimmern to Torpedo Wharf for a foraging excursion. As I watched the segment, I took note that scavenging for my own food was something I needed to get into, quick-like.
I have yet to go out foraging with Iso or join one of forageSF’s educational wild foods walks, but I did recently have the pleasure of photographing one of Iso’s Wild Kitchen underground dinners. I’m a photographer, so whenever there is something that I’m curious about or just really want to get involved with, I use my camera as guaranteed access. And actually, I did more than take photos. I served the food, I bussed the tables, and mostly importantly, I tried all the food. All aspects of me — including, and this was surprising, my love of waiting on people — came out that night. I thought I had left that behind at the retirement home, where I used to be a waiter for three years during high school.
Like other underground dining events, Wild Kitchen dinners are held in a different location every time; the address is not revealed to attendees until the day of the event. The dinner I went to was in an old cosmetics factory that now serves as a very large loft for its artist resident.
But what makes Wild Kitchen dinners so special are that the menus heavily feature locally-foraged food, such as halibut, wild boar, rabbit, miner’s lettuce, and the Bay Area delicacies. Iso and forageSF want to make people more aware of the vast array of available wild food where they live. Often, the foragers who picked and hunted the foods are invited to describe to diners how they procured the ingredients in specific dishes.
I was fortunate enough to experience The Wild Kitchen from multiple perspectives: as a photographer, a server, and a diner. The photos turned out well, I kept those water bottles full, and the food was ridiculously delicious. I wouldn’t have wanted to go into the wild any other way.
Hear the call of the wild (Wild Kitchen, that is)? Check forageSF's website for information on their upcoming underground dinners. Or if you really want to walk on the wild side, attend one of their Wild Food Walks, where you can hunt out local edible plants and seafood and create your own culinary masterpiece.