• Posted by Califia Suntree on January 19th, 2012, 10:19 AM

    True story: Yesterday I’m rushing home to have lunch before an appointment, and as I approach my front door I see a nattily-attired gentleman rooting around under our lemon tree. Neighbors are constantly raiding our Meyer lemons, so I approach the man, irritated.

    “Excuse me, what are you doing?”

    The man jumps up, alarmed, and I see that he’s holding a big bouquet of purple and green sourgrass, both flowering wood sorrels that grow (as weeds) all over our neighborhood.

    “What do you have there?” I ask.

    “Just these. They’re for my restaurant!”

    I look at him skeptically, “What, for the tables?”

    “No,” he says, “for the plates.”

    This guy knows his edible weeds.

    “What’s your restaurant?” I ask.

    Mélisse!” he answers, gesturing to the celebrated, two-Michelin-starred palace of haute cuisine two doors down (and yet a world away…) Yes, indeed, this man in my flowerbed, in his Persols and cashmere scarf, was celebu-chef Josiah Citrin!

    I start to chuckle, imagining our humble sourgrass adorning the oversized white plates of one of Los Angeles’s poshest restaurants. “Ok,” I say. “Just ring the doorbell next time, or you’ll freak us out.”

    “I don’t want to freak anyone out!” says Citrin, scurrying quickly away, still a bit alarmed. “Thank you!”

    For some reason, I didn’t demand free food in exchange for our coveted weeds. But I definitely have a new respect for the chef, for his daring, his knowledge of edible plants (though I’m 99% sure he thinks he’s picking the very edible Oxalis stricta rather than our sort-of-edible Oxalis pes-caprae) and his obvious devotion to locally sourced ingredients!

     

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