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Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  423 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
In this touching and informative memoir about foraging for food in New York City, Ava Chin finds sustenance—and so much more.

Urban foraging is the new frontier of foraging for foods, and it's all about eating better, healthier, and more sustainably, no matter where you live. Time named foraging the "latest obsession of haute cuisine," but the quest to connect with food and
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Simon Schuster
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Rebecca Foster
This lovely memoir brings together two things that might at first seem to belong in different books: urban foraging / gourmet cooking, and memories of a childhood broken home. Ava Chin grew up in Queens with a single mother and learned to eat from her Chinese grandparents, both of whom she loses over the course of the book. A writing professor opined that Chin’s father leaving when she was a child was the central wound of her life, and it certainly is what drove her to become a writer – she is n ...more
Erica T
**I received this book in a giveaway through Goodreads.**

I loved this memoir. In a lot of ways it reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life in that it gave me so much fabulous information about living off the land and eating locally, but Ava Chin's "story" is her own, and the common theme is merely food. I love that she shares so much of herself and discovers along the way what has made her find such joy in foraging. She seamlessly weaves her foodie know
Diane S ☔
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this memoir, I thought it was going to be a book on and wholly food and nature type movement, but it turned out to be so much more. Her relationship with her grandparents reminded me so much of mine, spending weekends together, learning so much and receiving from them so much love and acceptance that it could only be considered priceless.

Loved learning about all the different things that can be found in urban areas that we call weeds, berries that grow wildly, mushrooms and so much more
Deborah Feldman
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Ava Chin’s memoir has forever altered my relationship with nature; as a city girl I finally grasp the concept of finding oneself in the woods. The author forages through her past much in the same way she hunts for mushrooms, tenderly, with an almost worshipful respect for the delicate process of unearthing one’s true self; the hidden treasure lying buried under the debris of everyday existence. She confronts the pain of her own past with language made stunningly brave in its simplicity and direc
Kressel Housman
Ava Chin was one of my sister’s best friends in junior high, so it was really exciting to get hold of her memoir. For the past few years, she’s been writing a column called “The Urban Forager” at The New York Times, so at least half of this book is about finding and cooking the plants that grow wildly in New York City’s parks, recipes included. It made me curious as to what’s growing here in my own backyard in Rockland, but I can’t see myself joining Ava and her friends on any foraging treks.

Emily Crow
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was hesitant to start this book because I was afraid it would be one of those gimmicky, life experiment things where the author decides to do something different or wacky for a while and then write about it. Luckily, it's not like that at all. Instead, Eating Wildly is a quiet and rather sweet memoir about forgiveness and letting go of the past while foraging for wild edibles such as mushrooms, herbs and berries.

I could really relate to the way foraging helped Ava Chin make peace with the diff
Ann Mah
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This sensitive and thoughtfully wrought memoir had this city girl eager to tramp through nature, in search of the treasures that might be lying in plain sight.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
I mistakenly thought this book was a how-to on foraging and was a bit disappointed when I realized it was a memoir. However, I found the author engaging and wanted to keep reading not only to find out what she discovered in the urban wilderness but also what became of the her and the people in her life. This slim book is quite inspirational and optimistic. Here is a sample of the author's philosophy:

"I was talking on the phone to a producer for public radio several days before I was going to app
Patty Anker
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I started reading Eating Wildly on the train and was so engrossed I switched onto the wrong subway which meant I had more time to read. Ava’s story of finding nourishment in the unlikeliest of places by foraging for edible weeds in the city and even in the winter, is entwined with a deep longing for love and connection that made my heart ache. I finished the book the same evening, and saw the world with different eyes the next day. How often I’ve taken for granted the things that are always ther ...more
Belinda Lum
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written memoir that weaves together the practice of foraging with memory, the search for love, and the complexities of an ever evolving life. While many of the other reviews focus on foraging --I think they often neglect the important role that family and culture play in this book. This novel highlights the struggles that 2nd generation immigrants face as they negotiate cultural mores and a lifestyle often deemed 'American' Chin does an amazing job drawing the reader into h ...more
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
At turns humorous and touching, this memoir is about much more than discovering edible plants in the unlikeliest of places. Ms. Chin takes readers on a journey through major events in her life, as she navigates personal and family relationships in her quest for love and meaning in an urban environment. Beyond recipes and valuable information about local flora and fauna, it is a refreshingly candid, honest, and poignant account of an independent woman's path to self-discovery.

I highly recommend t
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
We read this book for my Food Writing Book Group at WORD bookstore, and it was an excellent choice. I thoroughly enjoyed this love and food story. The elements of growing up in an Asian family really rang true for me, and the foraging elements really sparked my interest (to the point where I went foraging twice after reading it, once hosted by the author!). Acutely emotional. Definitely interesting and unique as a story. Well worth a read.
Dara Mayers
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ava's story of finding love and mushrooms is an inspirational and moving account of two things we all understand: the need for love and for nature. She ties these two essential longings together beautifully, and tells a compelling story of hope and growth. As a Native NY-er who has always craved green, Eating Wildly spoke to me directly. I loved it, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever had a windowbox, or wanted one.
Rhonda Lomazow
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful memoir .A a opens by telling us about her love for foraging for wild plants in pars backyards,wherever she spies something green pocking out of the ground.This is also a love song to her Chinese grandparents who really raised her.Her grandpa's Sunday feast gave her her love for food.she also discusses her search for love from her dad & from men.This is a truly wonderful story read it.
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! I thought it was going to be more of a history of foraging...but was SO excited to find that the author told her story, as well as her story of discovering the wonderful world of yummy plants. After finishing this book in just a few hours, I felt like I came home to a kindred spirit and shared a cup of tea together over stories of childhood.

LOVE this book.
Puma Ghostwalker
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Ava for making me a part of this book. It is wonderfully written, you inspire me so much my friend. I bought a copy for my mother too. Let's go out soon and make a tincture of Ghost plants (Indian Pipe)They make a lovely, mild sedative.
Abra Vegter
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, honest memoir. I felt at peace reading it. As someone who never thought about foraging previously, I now walk around asking myself if that "weed" could be edible ; ). Most of all, the ending made me smile, which is 5 stars in my book!
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cbr7, nonfiction
This is more a memoir about life than about food, but it is engrossing and sincere. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My biggest complaint: TOO MANY MUSHROOMS.
Such a twee title! What a marvelous reminder that the earth breathes beneath our feet and provides for us and nurtures us... also, open call for foraging buddies located in Brooklyn..
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! Smart, earthy, quirky. Very real. This heartwarming journey triggered a lot of emotion. I really enjoyed the marriage of life, love, and nature, with a dash of spiritual seasoning.
Lisa  Schagerström
Neither a foraging guide, nor a cookbook, but a surprisingly personal book. It even made me cry once (*spoiler alert*: hospitals and death). A quick and easy read. The book inspired me to buy a mushroom guidebook, and sign up for a foraging tour in fall. :)
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
"Forager. Noun. One who loves the land so much that she literally eats from it."

I received this book through the First Reads program. Eating Wildly is a tale separated by seasons, spanning a period of years past and present. Each chapter title includes a common and scientific name beneath it, indicating the foraging focus in the following pages amongst Chin's vivid memories. She describes food the way one might detail clothing or a particularly stunning landscape--each description filled with r
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it
This book was bought by my mother at Ava's reading. It's quite humorous, and made my mouth water--a lot. I loved how avidly Ava described her dishes, from the succulent "Lobster Cantonese with fresh scallions covered in lacy egg whites and ground pork" to "Velvety corn soup with thin-sliced pork and minced onions." Ava really knew how to portray food to an extent where it felt like the food was in your mouth. Currently, I am craving Chinese from writing this review. What I also liked was how wit ...more
Jennifer Chow
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. Eating Wildly is a very unique memoir. I'd never really heard about urban foraging before, so it gave me great insight into eating off the land. Chin does a great job of incorporating fun recipes within the chapters of her book, but I wish that there were photos to accompany them.

Where she really excels, though, is through her openness. I love the way Chin is so transparent and humble. It's easy to want to "save face" in the Chinese culture, and she doesn't do that in her memoir. Ins
Melissa Calvert
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received this book from a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads.

This was a fun memoir about Ava Chin and her life as an urban forager. It's full of lessons in life, food, learning, relationships, connecting with the planet you live amongst, and more. This book is very inspiring in the way of making you want to go out and learn how to forage for the food around you; to learn all the plants and their benefits; to explore the life of mushrooms and do spore prints. It makes you want to embrace the nat
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book was an adventure! This book helped me explore eating nutritious plants that normally would not be categorized as food, all the while seeing the parallels in plant growth and Ava Chin's growth as an individual. Eating Wildly also encouraged me to see parallels in my growth, development, and belief system. I must say this book has inspired me to start exploring my natural environment more, and exploring my academic knowledge of wild plants. I definitely would recommend this book ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. I state that up front so if you feel differently you're aware of my bias. Ava Chinn took a subject that i had very little interest in (the whole foraging thing) and used it as a framework for a story about herself and her family that I found fascinating. Her connections between searching for naturally growing foods and herbs and the search for family history and truth was skillfully rendered. An byproduct of her tasting explorations was that I became more conscious about the q ...more
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is such a wonderful book. Ava Chin writes eloquently not just about foraging but about what it means to find so much wealth in the places most of us overlook. As she guides the reader through the bounty that can be found alongside highways and inside tree stumps, she effortlessly weaves in her own story of searching for love and reconciling her past. In the process, she shows how forgoing changed not just her outlook on food, but on life itself.
Sep 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Enjoyed the foraging stories and tidbits a lot, wish there had been more of that and less of the personal stuff. For some reason the stories the author tried to weave in about her grandparents, parents, AND love life felt out of place to me. Maybe if she had focused on one of those relationships it would have been more meaningful, but instead it all came off a bit jarring and forced.
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
In this book, New York Times foraging columnist Ava Chin takes on foraging, her Chinese family roots and her search for love. It's a memoir that pulls together different elements, but it definitely works. I learned a lot about foraging and wild foods and related to Ava's stories about her Chinese family.

I know a lot of people who would enjoy this book.
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Ava Chin is the author of "Eating Wildly," nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award 2014 (Food) and named by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of 2014 (Memoir). The editor of "Split," she's written for the NY Times (as the Urban Forager), the LA Times Magazine, the Village Voice, and SPIN. Before earning an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, and a PhD from the University of Southe ...more
More about Ava Chin

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