Tuesday, May 11, 2010

52 Weeks, An Adventure in Food

52 weeks. 52 new foods. Life's too short to turn your nose up at anything... this year I vow to say yes and try something new each week. Care to join me? 52 Weeks, An Adventure in Food

Fiddleheads... Not the most attractive of foods, but highly sought after every spring. Before this year, I had never even heard of fiddleheads. Had someone tried to serve me one, I would have flat-out rejected it. First of all, they are one of my least favourite plants to look at. For whatever reason, I have always thought that they are extremely ugly. Second, they just don't look like they'd taste good. Finally, I have never seen them in the grocery store, which means to me that there isn't a high demand for them. But curiousity finally got this cat and I had to know. Were fiddleheads worth the fuss?
Fiddleheads rear their swirly-curly little heads during the first weeks of May. They look like a tight coil of tiny leaves, covered with a very fine, brown, tissue paper-like chaff. Their heads are approximately 1-1.5 inches in diameter. However, if you do happen to find some with larger head, they are still edible provided their heads are tightly coiled. Fiddleheads grow all over the place, but not all are edible. The edible variety grows in mudflats.

I purchased my fiddleheads at the Guelph Farmer's market. A sizeable container was going for a whopping $5, but I kindly asked the vendor to divide the container into two, in case I didn't like them. I took them home and stored them in the fridge until I was feeling brave enough to pull them out again. Fiddleheads store well in the fridge, provided they are well-wrapped. They store for up to 10 days, but are best eaten soon after harvest. It took me about 5 days to work up the courage to pull them out again.
Once I was ready, I visited several websites to see what I could do with my fiddleheads. All of them recommended that I first wash and rewash them. So, that's what I did. I found a simple recipe that I felt wouldn't detract from the flavour. I did not want to claim that I was trying something new, and then lather it in some sauce to mask its unique character. I'm braver than that... I think. I chose a simple recipe of butter, garlic and fresh parsley, all of which I had on hand. I sauteed the fiddleheads very lightly in butter, adding a little garlic and parsley for flavour.

Lo and behold, fiddleheads are not the frightening little things I thought they were. They were delicious! They have a slight nutty taste and a texture comparable to asparagus. I liked the way they crunched, even after cooking.

Delicious and nutritious! According to nutritiondata.com, fiddleheads are low in cholesterol and sodium, and a good source of protein and zinc. They are a very good source of Vitamin A and C, Riboflavin, Niacin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

I'm so glad that I didn't let my fear of the unknown get in the way of trying these delicious little nutty nuggets. I ate the entire bowl in one sitting! With week one down, I can't wait to see what's on the menu for next week. Unless I can find morels, I think it's going to be Quinoa. See you next week!


  1. This is a great post! Glad you got around to trying and liking them. Incidentally, they go great with morels and quinoa. :)

  2. Thanks, Sheryl! If you want to follow along for the 52 weeks of food adventures, go to my new blog, www.52foods.blogspot.com
    I'm very excited about this new adventure. It's going to be a lot of fun!

  3. Found you from buttertarts and beer. Love fiddleheads! I'm tempting to drive to Guelph.

  4. Did you know that a fiddlehead is just the new growth of a fern?--the baby frond before it unfurls.

  5. I did. I have some just outside my door. Anytime now...