I have read about eating fiddleheads several times in the past couple of years. I had never eaten them though, because there are only a few species that are suited to fine dining, and I can’t tell them apart when they’re at the fiddlehead stage. One of the things I read is that there is really only one species to consider for eating, and that’s the Ostrich Fern. Some others are edible too, but require boiling in two changes of water.
Anyhow, I was in the grocery store yesterday trying to put together some salad ingredients as I strolled through the produce section. And there they were – fiddleheads. Joy! I snapped up a package and carefully read the label. Nowhere did it indicate what these were – ferns. Nowhere did it indicate the species. All it did indicate was the weight, price, and the fact that it was a PRODUCT OF CANADA in all caps.
I got back to the office and whipped out a large bowl in the kitchen. I dumped in some salad greens, scopped up half a cuke, a quarter green pepper, and three or four radishes. And then… a half cup of fiddleheads. I topped it off with a half cup of shelled sunflower seeds and some Russian dressing. Yum.
The fiddleheads were delicious. They were also… uncooked. My stomach started giving me little hints before I even finished the salad. By 1:00pm, I was pretty miserable, and the misery only increased as the day wore on. How foolish of me to think that just because I found these in a grocery store all prewrapped and ready to go, that they were really ready to go!
The misery hung with me until after I went to bed. When I woke up this morning I felt much better though. This is not a mistake I will repeat.
I still have 80% of those fiddleheads left. My heart and my head say “Yes! Cook them up proper and eat them!” But my stomach says “Are you insane? Run away! Run away!”
I think the memory will have to fade a little more before I get my courage up.