Book Review: Eating Wildly
Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal
By Ava Chin
Simon & Schuster
On first glance, Ava Chin’s Eating Wildly runs the risk of feeling overly busy: part memoir, part field guide, and part cookbook, it has a lot going on. But Chin has the skill to weave all these elements together into one compulsively readable narrative while teaching us something on the sly.
Chin’s story takes us from her youth in New York’s Chinatown, where she was raised by a hot-tempered single mother and food-loving grandparents, to her late 30s, when, following a string of romantic disappointments and family dramas, she turned to nature in search of healing. In the heart of New York, Chin begins to forage for edible plants, discovering an earth “rich with hidden wonders.” As Chin’s knowledge grows, aided by a colorful cast of friends and fellow foragers, so too does her confidence and, ultimately, her sense of self and well-being.
Chin, who writes the popular “Urban Forager” column for the New York Times, is earnest and warm, reflecting openly on her personal growth through the years (and the roadblocks along the way). Some of the revelations may come off as a little too pat, and a few of her major life changes, like the introduction of her husband, seem abrupt. But putting your own evolution into words is no easy feat, and Chin succeeds in drawing readers into her journey while inspiring them to grow closer to Mother Earth.