Dina Falconi first got schooled on the power of plants at age 11. A family member who’d healed their own serious illness gave her a book on herbal medicine; she devoured it, cured her own headaches, and never looked back. Since then she's authored two books and taught countless workshops, classes, and camps. This holiday season, she’s overjoyed to be collaborating with the next generation—her award-winning cinematographer son Sam Falconi—to bring a little bit of wild foraged food into the holiday kitchen with her new three-part mini-series.
A Comittment to Learning
In between that initial schooling at an early age and this latest production, Falconi's voracious intellect and sense of adventure have taken her on a journey
ever deeper into the connections between soil, food and well-being. Her formal education at Colgate and Bard focused on the fine and performing arts, but the education was a two-way street. Falconi taught the dining hall staff at Colgate how to cook tofu and tempeh, and never stopped foraging after her preteen summer camp days.
In 1998, Falconi moved to a property in Lyonsville with her Bard sweetheart and life partner, Tim Allen. In the more than two decades since then, her wild and cultivated gardens have grown to include over 200 species of plants, most of which are edible.. But Falconi wasn't settling down or resting on her laurels. Her next move was an apprenticeship with an herbalist and then an intensive one-on-one study of herbal diagnostics and protocols with a master, a five-year journey that groomed her to be the in-demand expert in clinical herbalism that she is today. To this plant wisdom, she added in a seasoning of Dr. Weston A. Price's philosophies on traditional diets.
The knowledge informs her practices: constant learning, teaching and gardening, crafting all-organic body-care products and medicinal tinctures, food systems activism, writing. When she and botanical illustrator Wendy Hollander decided to co-create Foraging and Feasting: A Basic Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook
, their Kickstarter campaign broke records and raised over four times the initial ask.
In the Wild Kitchen
The Wild Kitchen videos are much more than recipes. From the tools you’ll need to go out foraging to the techniques that will maximize flavor and food value, from why a plant likes to grow in a certain terrain to the other possible non-food uses of ingredients, Falconi’s is a cup brimming over with practical yet seemingly mystical information, conveyed with her hallmark quiet, impassioned warmth.
In Falconi's wild kitchen, there are no boundaries between great taste, medicine, and stewardship of the earth. There’s usually more than one way to get results, and each step of a technique is presented in context, so that watching “Warm Up With Wild Burdock Root Chai" leaves you with an understanding of everything from “engaging” burdock in the wild to the wider process of making teas and infusions of all sorts.
In “Herbal Truffles: Fruit and Nut Balls” you’ll come to understand the technique of powdering your ingredients and how to enrobe foods in dark chocolate. “Wild Cranberry (+Elderberry) Relish” starts with a journey into “the enchanted wild cranberry realm,” but you can also buy some cultivated cranberries and make the treat without the trip.
“What inspires all of my work is healing and earth connection, and for me that means getting out into nature to forage and to create delicious nourishing food direct from the mother,” says Falconi. “Right now during this hectic yet darker time of year, it seems especially important to slow down; tap into nature's gifts; sipping slowing; gathering gently; creating thoughtfully; and focusing on the home hearth. Holiday Kitchen Forage breathes some of that into being."
The three-part mini-series "Holiday Kitchen Forage
" is a teaser for an online masterclass, In the Wild Kitchen with Dina Falconi
, created by the mother/son alliance. And this dedicated link created just for you, dear Chronogram reader, will work through the foreseeable future even after the miniseries has been folded into the master class. Watch the mini-series here