An Education with Wildman Steve Brill

Wildman Steve Brill is the central character to probably the most widely known modern day wild food story ever told. It’s become legendary, and if you don’t know it…here it is:

Wildman was teaching a foraging class in New York City’s Central Park in 1986. The New York City Parks Commissioner was not happy this crazy bearded fellow was doing such a thing and put 2 undercover park rangers hot on his trail. A couple show up for one of Wildman’s nature tour’s, saying they’re married, and keep taking pictures on the tour. When Wildman bends down and picks a dandelion leaf the man goes behind a tree, says something on his walkie talkie, and immediately Wildman is surrounded by NYC park rangers who cuff him and search his belongings. He’s arrested, cited a violation for ‘Criminal Mischief for Removing Vegetation From the Park’, and faces a fine and up to one year in jail. Wildman calls every news agency he can and finds himself front and center of a media frenzy. He’s on the CBS Evening News, Late Night with David Letterman, BBC, front page of the Chicago Sun, etc. Wildman serves his Dandelion Five Boro salad on the steps of the Manhattan Criminal Court before his appearance. Meanwhile, the NYC Mayor receives so many angry letters that the charges are dropped and Wildman gets hired to teach wild food tours in Central Park!

Wildman also loves to cook. In the video above he shares a new experiment with cooking common plantain (Plantago major). Although he’s still experimenting, and says he would like to parboil and dry the leaves before roasting them next time, here’s an idea of a new recipe he’s coming up with. He washed and dried the leaves and preheated an oven to 425 degrees. The leaves were coated with sesame seed oil, ground caraway seeds, ground fennel seeds, ground nutmeg, and salt. Stirred regularly and baked for roughly 6-10 minutes. Check out his cookbook, The Wild Vegetarian Cookbook.

Imagine a world where children learn about and eat wild foods!

7 Comments

  1. I LOVE Wildman Steve Brill; I’ve attended quite a few of his walks. I also had the pleasure of interviewing him when I use to host an internet radio show.

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  2. cool!

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  3. Sunny, another fab vid. Brill is a born teacher. Entertaining and informative. Nice touch at the end with the Lennon tribute. Imagine indeed!

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  4. *yey…glad u liked it Finspot! It was a fun afternoon, and definitely fun to think about all kids being taught about wild foods, and nature in general, from an early age. In fact, I really wish someone would take this up. I tried to start a wild foods initiative to create educational materials for kids to learn 10 wild food plants in their ecosystem. Had the board put together, but had to let it go because I had too many other commitments all come on me at once. Anyways, imagine indeed. Hopefully someone builds it out of imagination.

    cheers, ~sunny

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  5. I was stopped by the police for picking daisies last year and last week stopped and questioned for photographing an oyster whilst visiting the Dali Lama!
    PS Thanks for your lovely spring greetings Sunny – never did know if you received my reply, but I expect you must be WILDLY busy now!!! x
    Three cheers for the Steve Brills of this world!

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  6. howdy Fergus!

    No…I never received your reply!!! bummer.
    yes, things are wildly busy here. Too funny about the cop…wonder what the Dalai Lama would have to say about that. :) A cop pulled over and questioned me this morning while I was out making some trillium grandiflora flower essence. U think they’d have better things to do! anyhoo, much love sent your way and I’m glad you enjoyed the video.

    cheers, ~sunny

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  7. Thanks so much for doing this video and posting it. It was great meeting you and having you attend the tour. Keep up the good work!

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