Last year, I made the mistake of not reading the small print. The small print in this case wasn’t on a contract; it was on a website. As anyone who reads my stuff knows, I love wild food foraging, and one of the things I have on my to-do list is sumac, its tangy flavor crucial to so many dishes, especially to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Since learning that sumac grows wild all over the Berkshires, I was psyched, and immediately went online to learn how to harvest it in New England. To make a long story short, my enthusiasm overwhelmed my common sense. The website’s author instructed readers to harvest in August, so I enlisted husband, daughter, and son-in-law to join me in the hunt. After all, the latter two are wonderful, adventurous cooks. Armed with plastic bags, we plucked dozens of the ruby red blossoms and brought them home to process on the dining room table. But, UGH. The blossoms were infested with lots and lots of tiny, wriggly worms. I had to throw out the whole lot — as fast as I could hustle myself out the door.
The website was indeed very instructive, but I had failed to notice that it was written in northern Maine, whose season has to be a good month later than ours in southern New England. Lesson: pay attention to the small print.
Tomorrow we go out to try again, the blossoms having just turned red in the past week.
Stay tuned. I have a craving for shwarma.