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Stalking the Wild Asparagus

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  915 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Euell Gibbons was one of the few people in this country to devote a considerable part of his life to the adventure of "living off the land." He sought out wild plants all over North America and made them into delicious dishes. His book includes recipes for vegetable and casserole dishes, breads, cakes, muffins and twenty different pies. He also shows how to make numerous j ...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published January 1st 1962 by Alan C Hood & Company
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4.19  · 
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 ·  915 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in foraging or survivalism
What a great book! This guide to foraging is more of a folksy cookbook than a field guide, but well worth a read. Just browsing through it, I found out that acorns are edible, there are no poisonous wild onions, you can make great apple dishes, butter & jams with crab apples, and that I could make maple syrup from the trees in my yard, even though they are not sugar maples. The author has a grandfatherly style I really enjoy.

The only thing that would make it better are more tips for recogni
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I’m a little torn on how to review this book. It’s partly on me that I expected it to be all about asparagus. But come on! So I basically borrowed a book from the library to read 2.5 pages on the subject of asparagus and it wasn’t even about growing it. It’s about finding it in the wild. In any event, I found some of the other chapters interesting, although I got tired of the author repeatedly saying he has no use for wine. We get it! You heard people make dandelion wine and grape wine but you c ...more
Cliff Davis
Loved this book. Read it all the time. The grand-daddy of foraging in America!
Oliver White
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent guide to beginning with wild foods and a great segment on tapping maples and other wild foods and various preparations as well as a crucial herb distillation process that can be done for cheap but you cannot use aluminum or iron stainless steel is preferable for distillation.
Craig Evans
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Imagine, if you will, sitting with your grandfather on his screened-in front porch or around a picnic table listening to your great-uncle spin his tales of years past. That might be the sensation you experience reading Gibbons' iconic 1962 text on wild foods.
Filled with personal vignettes, interesting recipes (some even with MSG!), and thoughtful commentary and insightful views, Gibbons came before the 1960's and 70's "back-to-nature" movement and the Foxfire books... perhaps his writings helped
Nick Woodall
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an exceptional book on foraging the wild, collecting just the right plants, and then cooking them to perfection. Euell Gibbons is a master gardener, forager, and cook. There are also drawings of each plant so that you can recognize them in the wild. With our food in the supermarkets these days, knowing how to forage, prepare and cook wild plants is a comforting backup to our food chain.
Nicole Heggelund
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
I now recognize the edible, wild plants that I have been seeing everyday on my walk! Anyone want to come over for some milkweed?
Apr 05, 2013 rated it liked it
More of a cookbook than guide. Sort of sweetly old fashioned with its emphasis on pies and jellies. The sense of humor and writing style are nice.
Kerry Shoji
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A thoroughly enjoyable book for foragers or want-to-be-foragers. Delightfully written by a very enthusiastic and passionate forager. I am old enough to remember the Grape Nuts TV commercial with Euell Gibbons in the 1970s - people made him out to be a kooky health food nut - but he was just ahead of the times. Provides directions on how to prepare/cook your finds as well as where to find them, and when.

Although the book has black and white drawings of the plants (I have the 1962 edition), I wi
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite foraging book, so good that I read it cover to cover. This guy loves his wild plants and it seems like he has tried cooking every one of them in every way possible. I love that it also includes a section on "foraging" meat.
It's old so it doesn't have color photographs (my copy at least), but it wasn't hard to look up dozens on my little computer as I read.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A classic. Gibbons' style is approachable and his tone more progressive than many things I've read from the middle of the 20th century. But more than anything else, it's practical, useful, and a fantastic jumping off point. His insistence on scientific names is a real boon for identification, and his recipes (at least those that I've tried) are indeed quite good.
Excellent resource for living off the land. If you traipse through meadows, forests, and ditches you’ll want to have read at least some of this book. Useful and entertaining writings.
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I run a book group that meets at a local and sustainable foods restaurant. We discussed Stalking the Wild Asparagus this month. This book was published in 1962 and is rightfully considered a bible of the environmental movement and a primer for anyone interested in healthy, inexpensive eating.

I didn't expect to enjoy this book very much, but I was wrong. I found it easy to read and full of interesting tidbits. For example, I learned that the Pecan tree is a member of the hickory family! The autho
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a series of delightful short essays by this wonderful old country man sharing his favorite wild foods of North America. Each 2-20 page chapter is devoted to a different plant and meanders its way through its identification, common locations, how to harvest it, and several recipes... all nestled alongside quirky, chitchatty stories about that one time Gibbons first tried the food as a little boy or some expounding on the great joy of spending an afternoon berry-picking and how much b ...more
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is an easy to read in-depth source of knowledge of wild foods. Not only does it include helpful tips of where to find these wild food items, but also how to prepare them. It is often quirky and folksy with an odd mix of cooking terms, reminiscences of his childhood, and botanical terms. Anyone who can use a term like esculent while discussing raccoon meat is certainly not your average hillbilly. Chapters read in a stand-alone style with each ending with an encouragement to "try it!". I ...more
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-writing
"I have lived at my present address for only a few months and I am not as familiar with the area as I would like to be. But, just for fun and to escape from the typewriter for a while, I interrupted this writing to take my notebook and go for an hour's walk. Without going more than a half mile from the house, I saw, identified and recorded more than sixty species of plants good for human food and several of these had more than one edible part. A look at this list tells me that I could gather edi ...more
Ava Chin
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the forager's bible, and a true classic. Gibbons, who was embraced by the back-to-the-land movement, became famous and wrote a slew of other "Stalking" books, but this is the one that launched his career.

In plainspoken yet swaggering prose, Gibbons eloquently describes the benefits of eating wild foods, including dandelions, amaranth, and mulberries. Each chapter focuses on a different edible plant (mainly flora, although he's got a brief chapter on mushrooms) with a simple line drawing
Hannahhippo vvverst
Feb 24, 2008 is currently reading it
there's an old copy of this old forager's classic here at black bear ranch and i am currently gulping it up. there are simply drawn plates of many of these common edible finds, which are easy for me to draw and trace--something that i have to come to regard as essential if i want to retain the wee details. besides that these essays interspersed with keen plant descriptions and many preparation techniques read like a guilty-pleasure there are so witty--somehow both dated and perfectly poignant to ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it liked it
What I learned from this book: Euell Gibbons is a badass, who learned how to forage to support his family during the Great Depression. He really loves making jellies and chiffon pies. He thinks wine is a waste of good juice. And there are lots of wild plants that can be cooked like potatoes.

This is a fun book to read through, though all the jams and jellies get a bit tedious by the end. It's not really a foraging guide (few pictures, minimal descriptions on habitat and season), but it will get
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I loved the premise of this book! (for one thing, who knew that acorns were edible--if you prepare them properly?) I found it so interesting that the author could live so long by foraging along (if I recall correctly, his longest foraging "trip" was 4 years), plus I had no idea that it's actually better to forage in an urban setting than in the wilderness--I think at one point he commented that he'd found 42 edible species in a vacant lot in Chicago.

What I would have liked, however, was more in
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sustainability
A great overview of wild foods. Beautifully illustrated (botanical line drawings) by my great aunt, Margaret Forbes Schroeder.
I looked to this for a manual of sorts on how to survive once the food supply is insecure, if things continue the way they are... And it is an excellent start, but I am concerned about the preparation required to achieve some of his recipes... In a starvation situation, I somehow doubt many would have the energy, time, tremendous amounts of water, or other ingredients re
Nov 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: environment
A very interesting book containing knowledge that has been forgotten by most in the modern day (including myself). While some of the chapters were more interesting than others, the overall message of this book is really quite good. While I doubt that I will ever use most of the information in this book, it is still fascinating to learn about the abundance of food around us. This book makes you think differently about those weeds growing in your yard or on the side of the road. What we find in na ...more
Samuel Wells
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Euell Gibbons was a practical naturalist, and his classic book is less about ecology and life histories of plants and animals than it is about the edible species that surround us. I'm surprised that this book isn't more widely read these days, considering the recent popularity of living off of the land. Anyone looking to diversity their diet should read Gibbons's book. And if you have tried eating wild plants without pleasure, you should also read it for the many recipes and helpful advice on ho ...more
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
The reason I picked this book up from the library is because it was listed as suggested reading for fans of "The Year of the Flood" by Margaret Atwood. I've always enjoyed foraging for berries and I thought maybe there are other foods that I could "branch" out and try.

This book shows its age in places (who cooks with monosodium glutamate anymore?) and the author makes a few assumptions about his readers that writers today would not make, but nonetheless, this book holds up despite being from the
Nov 07, 2015 rated it liked it
There are some pretty funny and touching moments in this book, but I began to skim as I got deeper. If Gibbons doesn't have a great story about the particular plant or animal he's writing about, the section will read more like a reference book.

I did learn a thing or two. For example: you can pretty much grab a fistful of any leafy green you see outside, boil it in salted water for 20 minutes, and put butter on it, and it'll be delicious. Of course, if it's a fruit or berry, you're going to want
Feb 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
I had a summer job as a janitor at my old elementary school and as we'd be out doing groundswork, the head janitor would point out various weeds and trees and whatnot and say "You can eat that, you know!" and he'd show me which parts were edible.

He brought in a couple books by Euell Gibbons and I'd read them during breaks. I've eaten all kinds of stuff, I got the runs a few times, but for the most part I've been unscathed. Since reading his books, I see the outdoors with new eyes.
Feb 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can barely remember his PBS programs, but mainly remember him from Grape Nuts TV commercials and as the butt of many Johnny Carson jokes. I'm halfway through this book and am itching to go foraging. His enthusiasm is contagious.

I just looked up his cause of death: Marfan Syndrome. Interesting. Just learned last night that many in King Tut's royal line had the same affliction. I was hoping he didn't die from eating some poisonous plant.
Aug 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
You can tell this was written during the beginning of the back-to-earth movement, but it's an enjoyable read nonetheless. Obviously the last section on wild meat wasn't helpful for me, but I'll let it slide since he meant for this to be a more general intro to foraging, not just a guide to plants. I love the recipes. There's a wide selection of creative preparations, and you can tell that he tried all of them.
Stephanie R.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
My husband reads this book to me when I have trouble sleeping. Sometimes it's very effective, other times it doesn't work very well because I notice that I haven't heard of a particular plant or that a recipe sounds terrible. Only about half of the plants mentioned in this book are available in the metropolitan area in which we live, because they were cut down to build roads. So, it is unlikely I will use any of the advice or recipes in this book.
Jodi G.
May 02, 2012 rated it liked it
A classic, and I read it years ago, but in the re-reading I remembered why this book didn't sit well with me. Written in 1962 as a foraging guide, he recommends hunting and eating frogs and turtles as a delicacy. Since their numbers have declined drastically, nobody should be eating frogs and turtles. But the chapters on purslane and dandelion were useful - those grow in abundance in my garden!
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