Monday, May 24, 2010

Oh Fiddlesticks! I Missed the Fiddleheads

I'm guessing that nearly every region has their own early spring delicacy. You know, the tender something or other that appears in the early part of spring. Die-hards will wait with great anticipation and then descend upon these wild delicacies (and keep their whereabouts top-secret) as soon as they appear from the earth.

In Maine, in case you didn't know, the early spring delicacy are Fiddleheads, the young coiled leaves of the ostrich fern. Nearly all ferns have Fiddleheads, but those of the ostrich fern are unique and can be identified by the brown papery scale-like covering on the uncoiled fern. These ostrich ferns emerge in clusters on the banks of rivers, streams and brooks in April and May.

Truth be told, until recent years, I thought Fiddleheads were disgusting -- in appearance and in taste. Too earthy. But, now, I love them. I love them for their earthy flavor, in fact. And, for the last few years I've been wanting to learn to harvest them on my own (instead of buying them in the local market). There is an art to it, I'm told. But, alas, I missed my window of opportunity again this year. Next year, for sure.

I like my Fiddleheads steamed a bit, then sauteed in butter and garlic. Yum. But, Fiddlehead lovers cook them all sorts of ways...they even pickle 'em so they can be enjoyed throughout the year, not just in those few spring weeks.

What's the spring delicacy in your region? And, if you are in Maine, what's your favorite way to eat Fiddleheads?

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