Between two ferns


Courtesy of Donielle Howard

Bracken fern growing on a sandy bank. Taller ferns can be beacons for younger ones, but don't harvest them: the taller they get, the more astringent they are.

Over a recent lunch of shrimp curry, kicharee and pasta with nettle pesto, our friend asked whether we had eaten fiddleheads before. I said sure, in the northeast, but not in Washington.

Unsurprisingly, these are two different ferns. In the interest of nipping confusion in the bud, I once again must resort to scientific names: the fern I knew from Massachusetts is the ostrich fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris, and the fern to which our friend was referring is the bracken fern, Pteridium aquilinum.

The ostrich fern is unconditionally delicious. Enough people cherish them that they can be found...

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