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Wild Flavors

One Chef's Transformative Year Cooking from Eva's Farm

The minute Didi Emmons, a chef from Boston, met Eva Sommaripa—a near legendary farmer whose 200-plus uncommon herbs, greens, and edible “weeds” grace the menus of many famous restaurants in the Northeast—something amazing happened. Not only did Eva’s Garden become Didi’s refuge and herb-infused Shangri-La, the two women also forged a lasting friendship that has blossomed and endured over time.

Wild Flavors follows a year at Eva’s Garden through the seasons. It showcases Emmons’s creative talents, featuring herbs (African basil, calaminth, lovage) and wild foods (autumn olives, wild roses, Japanese knotweed). The author provides growing or foraging information for each of the forty-six uncommon garden plants profiled, as well as details on prepping, storing, preserving, and health benefits. The wide-ranging recipes reflect the shifting seasonal harvest and are easy to follow, but best of all, Emmons shows us how these herbs, greens, and wild foods improve and transform the flavors in our food.

Emmons also shares some of the valuable lessons she has learned from Eva about maintaining a healthy, satisfying lifestyle, putting the emphasis on community, thrift, conservation, and other time-honored virtues. Wild Flavors is a cookbook that celebrates the interconnectedness and beauty of nature, farms, animals, and ourselves.


"Wild Flavors ushers in a new era of cookbook writing. Much more than a collection of ingredient-driven recipes (brilliant, rustic yet modern, recipes), Didi also serves up engrossing stories peppered with practical tips, tools, and tidbits for foraging, growing, and preparing seasonal fare. This timely book not only underscores Didi's immense talent as an innovative chef, it showcases the joys of connecting with our food from seed to table."--Bryant Terry, author, The Inspired Vegan

Publishers Weekly-

"Emmons offers an adventurous approach to flavor in this earthy collection of recipes inspired by organic farmer Eva Sommaripa. The book begins with some ‘basics' that introduce supplies Eva deems crucial to her cooking endeavors—pressure cookers, certain mixers, strainers, and even a built-from-scratch pizza oven. Sections on salvaging, bartering, and preserving home grown ingredients offer a plethora of ideas and recipes including such treats as a "master recipe" for herb butter and spruce shoots—'Pop a shoot in your mouth,' Emmons suggests, 'and you will be rewarded with a minty pinelike tartness that is as much fun to play with in the kitchen as lemon, lime, sorrel, or rhubarb.' The analysis of many edibles covers their culinary uses, health ‘virtues,' and how to forage for and store them. There are intriguing discourses on sorrel, dill, dandelion greens, and even raw milk. Emmons adds instructive insights on when to add herbs to a dish and an interesting aside on how 'funky foods create stronger stomachs.' This is a truly wild romp through new flavors and undiscovered herbs and plants.”

"Chef Didi Emmons' intimate portrait of Eva Sommaripa, one of New England's most eccentric and charismatic growers, has lessons for us all. From arugula and basil, to spruce shoots and stinging nettles, this book tells you how to prepare, store, save and eat just about everything. Highly recommended!"--Jane Black, IATP Food & Community Fellow

"Wild Flavors is a down-to-earth book rich in ideas and inspiration for people seeking to eat from their gardens and local areas. It's filled with mouth-watering recipes and valuable cultivation, shopping, and storage tips. But more than anything, this book is a celebration of the ethics and wisdom of Eva Sommaripa, the farmer whose herbs and outlook transformed Didi Emmons and prompted her to write this book. Eva has manifested throughout her life the kind of aspirations many are just now coming to hold. May this sharing of Eva's story help empower more people to realize their dreams of becoming more connected to the land and other creatures."--Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved

"Award-winning food writer and Boston chef, Didi Emmons, has written a charming cookbook. Wild Flavors chronicles a year spent with farmer Eva Sommaripa on her incredibly forward-thinking farm, complete with 150+ innovative, explosively flavorful recipes that Didi developed to help you take full advantage of the best your farmer's market or natural foods market has to offer. You'll never look at produce quite the same way."--Steven Raichlen, author, Barbecue! Bible, and PBS host, Barbecue University

"Didi Emmons has long been a hero to me. She teaches, tempts and transforms all of our senses, even our common sense. Let her artistry open our eyes and taste buds to the wild flavors all around us. Enjoy!"--Frances Moore Lappe, author of EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want

"Didi Emmons, a local rock star of vegetarian cuisine, has written a lovely and unique cookbook, jam packed with yummy recipes for using everything a plant has to offer -- the bulbs, stalks, leaves, flowers and fruits. This book fills an important niche in the cookbook world."--Melissa Kogut, executive director, Chefs Collaborative

"If you are a city person, like me, with a secret yen to forage for wild greens, Wild Flavors is an inspiration. Read it, and you will want to harvest, share, and eat everything you find. Emmons's friend Eva, a committed and skilled forager and grower, not only creates delicious meals from home-grown foods, but also creates a community built around wild foods as a way of life. Best, Emmons's recipes are lovely and easy to follow."--Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies ,and Public Health, NYU, and author, Food Politics and What to Eat

"With brilliance, love, and a sense of humor, Didi Emmons captures the wild and wacky spirit of Eva Sommaripa and her world of herbs. She walks you through Eva's garden and into her kitchen where you'll want to dive in, roll up your sleeves and start cooking with lovage, purslane, and all kinds of plants you may never have heard of before, but probably could find in your own back yard."--Jody Adams, chef, Rialto Restaurant

Greens, herbs, and root vegetables play a critical role in cooking and offer distinctive flavors to fish, meats, and other vegetables. What would tomatoes be without basil? Chicken without tarragon? Chef Emmons recounts her collaboration with Eva Sommaripa, a farmer whose knowledge of edible plants has made her a legend in the Northeast. For this cookbook, Emmons follows the seasons. Stored winter root vegetables such as beets and parsnips find complementary flavors in juniper berries when no greens appear. Spring prompts the first verdant shoots and offers plenty of opportunity for foraging in budding forests. Summer brings basil, fennel, and exotic lemongrass. Fall's kale copes with the first frosts. To prepare all these natural and garden greens, Emmons offers recipes embracing vegan, vegetarian, and meat options. Full-color photos help novices identify unfamiliar vegetation. This is a particularly valuable resource for cookery reference collections for its in-depth treatment of both wild and domestic edible green plants.


  • Winner - Nautilus Book Awards: Gold - 2012
  • Runner-up - International Association of Culinary Professionals: Food Matters - 2012


Didi Emmons

Didi Emmons

Didi Emmons began cooking omelets when she was ten and had her own catering business by the age of fourteen. After earning a BS in food service management at NYU, serving as a stagiaire (apprentice) to La Varenne (cooking school) in Paris and opening several restaurants in the Boston area, she opened Haley House Bakery Cafe, a non-profit cafe in Roxbury, whose staff are people transitioning from homelessness and incarceration. She has since begun a program at Haley House Bakery Cafe, called "Take Back the Kitchen," teaching Roxbury and Dorchester residents how to eat and cook healthfully.Her first book, Vegetarian Planet, was nominated for a James Beard Award. Her second book, Entertaining for a Veggie Planet, won the Best Book in the Healthy Category by the International Association of Cooking Professionals (formerly the Julia Child Award).

Emmons also serves as a trans fat consultant for the Boston Public Health Commission, as well as a food consultant for the Boston Public School food service. She is currently collaborating with Dr. Walter Willett (author of Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy) on a project about inexpensive but healthy food.Didi was inspired to write Wild Flavors after she met Eva Sommaripa whose herbs and greens are widely coveted by Boston-area chefs. While she is revered for the unsurpassed quality of her produce, she is equally admired for her energetic commitment to a simple and environmentally conscious lifestyle.


Didi Emmons on
Wild Flavor's Facebook Page
Didi's Website
Didi Emmons on Haley House: Take Back The Kitchen


Didi Emmons and Wild Flavors

How to Heroes Video Demonstration - How to Make Calamint Sorbet

Veggies 101 with Didi Emmons

Veggies 101 with Didi Emmons

Wild Flavors

Pages:320 pages
Book Art:Color illustrations throughout
Size: 6.62 x 9.75 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603585187
Pub. Date September 15, 2013

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 320 pages, $24.95