So I'm listening to KUOW's Weekday program on my way in to work this morning, and for the 10 a.m. segment, Steve Scher has a few gardening experts on to talk about weeds. In the teaser , he mentions that they're going to be talking about a new restaurant in Redmond, Herbacia, that specializes in a weed salad, cultivating weeds in local gardens.
Oh, Steve, you had me for a minute -- I was fumbling around my glove compartment for a pencil until you mentioned that Herbacia's other house specialty was strata di somethingitalianican'tremember, or "road kill." Now, I admit I'm a gullible guy, but the reason I got excited is that weed salads are no hoax.
Not only was a "Golden Gate Park" salad one of the specialties of San Francisco's first raw-foods restaurant in the mid-1990s (here's the chef's website), I learned while writing up a profile of 2008 Seattle Food Award winner Mark Musick that the weed salad plays an important role in Seattle's culinary history. As this PDF of a 1986 article attests, the wild-greens "salad impromptu" that Musick developed with Bruce Naftaly of Rosellini's Other Place (in its day the Chez Panisse of the Northwest) made a splash, nationally, and spawned the spring mix that we all buy at Safeway today.
Sadly, thanks to the availability of the spring mix, the weed salad has gone out of fashion. Roadkill, sadly, has never made it big here.