The Indians had names for each month's full moon; to some this month is the Full Hunger Moon. Harsh weather conditions and heavy snow made hunting difficult. Supplies of The Three Sisters , dried for the winter, were dwindling.
It is different now in America. One can eat 24 hours a day if one has the money. Not necessarily well, if the number of obese children I see is any indication: that is another rant. Americans, with notable exceptions like the Donner party, those first winters in Jamestown and Plymouth, and certain Rebel cities during the Civil War have not had experience with the other side of plenty: scarcity. When I stumbled across Patience Gray's unique memoir, Honey From a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany,Catalonia, The Cyclades and Apulia , it was a Zen smack in the head. Welcome to Stone Age and Bronze Age food ways, where "the supply of food is conditioned by the seasons".
Gray came to write this book when she and her companion The Sculptor (Norman Mommens), seeking marble, lived in the places of the title. Because they lived with not amongst Tuscans, Catalonians, etc. , they showed her what was available to eat in their rough countryside. These people read landscapes, not books. They showed Gray the good weeds, mushrooms, and shellfish, mostly. She was, after all, still an outsider. Gray includes many recipes amongst her flinty prose. There is even a recipe for fox. Pig ("winter saviour of mankind") recipes abound, and, being the countryside, 'everything but the squeal' is used. Gray recognized how 'doing without' increases the value of what one has; it is the basic idea of this unique and wonderful book.
*Photo from Persephone Books*