Spring is Here! Bring on the Fiddlehead Ferns!
When I was a kid, a sure sign of Spring was the appearance of Fiddlehead Ferns on our dinner plate. I believe they brought back memories from my mother's childhood. Mom was a child of "The Great Depression". I know there was nothing great about it for my grandparents. But for a time, my mother's playground was Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Westchester County, New York. My grandfather took advantage of what the federal government had to offer in the way of employment, and, for him it was wrangling, teaching and guiding unemployed young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps.
After her school day in the one-room-schoolhouse ended, Mother would roam the woods of the Reservation. Thirty years later, she still knew that the Mountain Laurel were in full bloom on Father's Day. She knew where to find Trillium and Lady's Slipper Orchids. And she'd remember foraging for the furled, young fern fronds to accompany a Sunday chicken dinner. I'm sure her own mother told her where to find them and welcomed their arrival at the end of Winter. Fortunately for me, her foraging days were long over by the time she began cooking for our family, and our Fiddleheads came from the local grocer. As did mine, which I plated up with grilled Halibut and sauteed mushrooms. They can be boiled or steamed and served with butter and salt or Hollandaise sauce. I decided to wash them well, pat them dry, and sautee with in olive oil with slivered garlic and then salted them lightly. They retain a little more of their bitter/green flavor without the boiling, but that's a flavor that I enjoy. If you decide to try them, plan to prepare them the day you buy them as they do not store well. They are only available for a short time. Spring is here. Enjoy!