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Roadkill Café ? the aftermath. 18th Jan. (Should put most of this stuff in my blog, but having trouble using it.)

?Aftermath? usually implies dire consequences. In this case the term simply pays reference to my state of mind just prior to the programme?s general release, with its inability to take a more detached and objective view about Roadkill Café. I have seen the programme twice now. But, hey, forget the definite article ? I didn?t see the programme at all. I saw two completely different programmes! Amazing how the mind colours perception. On the first viewing a couple of months ago I had mixed feelings - mainly negative; on the second viewing, last Tuesday, again I had mixed feelings - only this time they were predominantly of the positive variety. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to teach English in the spiritual sanctuary of one of China?s largest Chan temples ? Bailin Temple in Hebei Province, and was honoured to be given the task of correcting a final English translation of the master?s latest work. In the book there is a wonderful story illustrating this phenomenon of the divisive monkey mind. Here?s my somewhat liberal rendition of the original story:

During the Tang Dynasty two travellers in search of enlightened Dharma teaching journey south to the temple residence of a renowned Buddhist master. Approaching their destination yet some hours distant, night descends and they find themselves in a deserted and baron landscape. Tired and thirsty, the two seekers decide to set camp for the night and find water. After some time groping about in the gloom they come across a small pit. Standing on a ledge they hear the welcome sound of dripping water. Stooping down, they eagerly gather the precious water in their cupped hands and, slurping with greedy satisfaction, experience the full delights of a parching thirst quenched. That night they rest soundly in slumberous anticipation of their journey?s completion. A lone cock crows, and as the gathering sun?s rays begin to sketch out the dawning reality of a newly revealed day our bleary eyed seekers survey the scene. With wild exclamations of horror, with cries and stomach wrenching, with disbelief and explosive vomit our Truth seekers confront a shocking scene: the drip, drip, drip of water from an open coffin! There is no one in the coffin ? never was. In fact the thirst quenching water was simply the freshly gathered rain, pure and clear.

In these two different situations the water is one and the same ? it is only the perception of that water that has changed. This story is interesting not only for reflecting on my state of mind but also for another reason. It can be directly related to the consumption of roadkill. A dastardly thing to do would be to go into supermarkets and replace their plastic wrapped ?choice? cuts of meat with fresh, healthy and succulent roadkill. Can you imagine the reaction of cheap-meat supermarket junkies if it were revealed that in fact they had just eaten roadkill!

Anyway, the reason I started writing this was to thank all the viewers of the programme who emailed me with their encouraging and, without exception (so far) positive comments. As you can no doubt gather from my comments elsewhere on this site, I couldn?t agree more with all those of you who expressed the opinion that the programme was too preoccupied with the roadkill element, that is, over and above any significant focus ? more generally ? on wild food. Retrospective insight is a funny thing, dependent as it is upon moods that ebb and flow. Only a few days ago I had regrets. Now I have none.

Books and courses

Many of you have asked me to recommend some books on foraging/wild food related matters. There are quite a few. Many of these I have seen or heard about but don't yet have on my shelves. I will just tell you the ones I do have, as these are the ones I refer to most often. There are two broad categories - wild food identification guides and/or recipe books and general wild food/ miscellaneous more philosophical books. I have put an * after those that I highly recommend, and ** after those I think invaluable. For descriptions check out Amazon or some such place.

Herbs. Roger Phillips and Nicky Foy*
The Wild Flower Key. Francis Rose and Clare O'Reilly*
The Concise British Flora in Colour. W. Keeble Martin*
Wild Flowers of Britain. Readers Digest*
Trees and Shrubs. Readers Digest
Wild Flowers of Britain. Roger Phillips**
Mushrooms. Roger Phillips (new edition)**
The Encyclopaedia of Fungi. Michael Jordan**
The Neighborhood Forager. Robert.K. Henderson - American, but much that is very relevant.*
Fungi. Brian Spooner and Peter Roberts. Not an identification guide.
A Cook on the Wild Side. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall*
In Search of The Wild Asparagus. Roy Lancaster
The Wild Foods of Britain. T. Cameron
Food for Free. Richard Mabey (new and old editions)**
Poisonous Plants in Britain: A Celebration. Chris Howkins
Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Paul Stametes
Flora Britanica. Richard Mabey**
Biology and Conservation of Mushrooms. T.N. Kaul
The Really Wild Food Guide. Johnny Jumbalaya*
Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live Culture Foods. Chelsea Green
Cooking Weeds. Vivien Weise*
Vegetarian Cooking Without. Barbara Cousins
Mushrooms: Over 100 Tantalizing International Recipes. Rita Roseburg
Complete Mushroom Book. Antonio Carluccio
A Passion For Mushrooms. Antonio Carluccio*
Wild Food. Roger Phillips (UK edition)**
Wild Food. Roger Phillips (US edition)
Plants For A Future. Ken Fern*
In Praise of Slow. Carl Horore**
The Permaculture Way. Graham Bell*
The Practice of the Wild. Gary Snyder*

Amusing Ourselves to Death - Public discourse in the age of show business. Neil Postman (2005 anniversary edition)*** Being in large part responsible for about 450,000 people watching the dreaded TV the other day, I feel it is incumbent upon me to recommend that you cleanse yourselves by reading this wonderful book.

For all those who have asked to be put on a waiting list for courses, I will do that for you. Also, I shall endeavour to reply to everyone who has emailed me - but it may take some time!!


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