Steve and Wendy Gessell lent me the “U.S. Army Survival Manual,” a wonderful read. It reminded me that people can live many days without food, if they have water. (Good — my fictional paddlers have plenty of fresh water at hand. But it won’t fill the paddlers’ bellies, so they’ll be getting thinner and grouchy.)
On page 2, it listed major cautions. “Do not eat unknown plants that:
Resemble onion or garlic;
Resemble parsley, parsnip, or dill;
Have carrot-like leaves, roots, or tubers.”
Oops. There goes a good share of what I was planning for André’s meals. I’d hoped they could use smell or similar growth to help find edibles. Just because Queen Anne’s Lace smells like carrot doesn’t make it edible.
On to Plan B: What else could André and his crew eat? How will they know what is edible? They can’t take a chance on getting sick in the canoe.
Friends suggested morel and pheasantback mushrooms, ramps and fiddlehead ferns, which are available about the right season for my voyageurs.
Wendy took me on a morel mushroom hunt and we got a lot!! Morels are so distinctive that they couldn’t be mistaken.
Fiddleheads, equally distinctive, grow in my back yard—and were reasonably tasty. We enjoyed them cooked and in salads. But we were too late to harvest ramps—they were no longer in season.
That gives my voyageurs a few things to eat, even though it won’t fill them up like pea soup does. What else can they eat?
Ready for the “quiz”? Next up!