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Between Plenty and Poverty Foraging in the Salento with Patience Gray
Vol. 11, No. 1 (Spring 2011), pp. 61-66
Published by: University of California Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/gfc.2011.11.1.61
Page Count: 6
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Patience Gray was one of the first food writers to celebrate the culinary and cultural significance of edible weeds and plants. In 1970 she and her husband, the Belgian sculptor Norman Mommens, settled in the far south of Italy. It was the endpoint of their Mediterranean odyssey, which had taken them to the Greek island of Naxos, Carrara, in northwestern Tuscany, Catalonia, the Veneto, and finally Puglia. Gray’s Honey from a Weed, the product of those travels, remains one of the best texts on wild foods and on edible weeds in particular. Drawing on Gray’s unpublished letters and manuscripts this essay explores the life of one of the twentieth century’s most unusual and often overlooked food writers. The contemporary uses and significance of edible weeds and plants are also discussed through foraging trips and interviews with Gray’s friends and neighbors. Though Gray warned that traditional ways of life were dying out, it is clear that foraging is still an important part of the Salentine diet.