Comments by Elizabeth B. Naime

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Recipe Substitutions

Wild onion. If Jean Auel's wild onion is the same as today's hardy suburban weed, onion isn't the right flavor. Perhaps green onions with a little garlic would be closer, or whole winter onions; but I've never failed to find wild onion when I looked for it in the U.S. I have looked in Utah (Salt Lake valley), Virginia (near Bull Run) and Kansas (all over the northeastern part of the state). I don't know its cold tolerance but for the southern of your North American readers at least it is ubiquitous. Not as tasty as onion or garlic or green onion either, but authentic .

Lilies. I don't know about poisonous lillies. I had always assumed that Auel was referring to the common wild Daylilly, which is not only edible according to Gibbons (and quite tasty when the buds are tempura'd and deepfat fried, surely an "out of period technique" for Ayla) but is also used in oriental cookery. The flowers and buds are edible and go all gleutinous when cooked in liquid -- so given that common daylillies are so very common it would be worth using them and getting the different, originally intended texture. For the committed non-forager I believe the buds and/or flowers can be purchased dried at oriental food stores. Another alternative would be to find another sort of slimy gleutinous thickening agent... I know there are a few though I can't remember any except fish glue.

The winter onions for wild onions are a guess -- I used to grow winter onions, they are a domestic variety grown primarily for the tender green stalks in spring. The "winter" in their name is like the "winter" in winter wheat -- it needs to winter over before it is harvested. I planted mine in the late fall. They produce bulbs (?) at the top of the plant after flowering, rather like garlic does. They seem very common in gardens here but are not common in garden stores, and never make it to the supermarket. A grow-your-own sort of ingredient.

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