Meet the milkweed. On a hike upstate this weekend, I traversed across the path of this “beached pufferfish” of an alien plant being, which turns out to be as interesting a life form as its appearance suggests. They’re the exclusive food of monarch butterfly larvae — aka “caterpillars” — and have three life stages, each as strangely beautiful as the next. My favorite is the silky seed pods, which take flight every Autumn. (If you’re superstitious, you’ll make wishes on them.) It can also be foraged for food: “When boiled, it has a mild, pleasant flavor and a chewy texture. Mixed with other foods, the boiled white looks, tastes, and behaves surprisingly like melted cheese.”
Three cheers for foraging! I like milkweed (also, when thinking about how to cook foraged food, look around online for menu ideas from Ma Peche - a friend of mine is their forager - and then look on folk medicine blogs for how to prepare).