Spring means many things in Southern California--the end of citrus season, the beginning of masses of bright green reappearing in local farmers' markets--but it is not associated with the food-gathering traditions long upheld elsewhere in the country. The first somewhat warm, wet months that follow winter bring about morel hunts in the Midwest, ramp digs in Appalachia, fiddlehead fern gathering in New England. Like the king of wild ingredients, the truffle, these highly season, intensely local foods are loved not just for their taste, but for the traditions which have built up around their seasons, the effort needed to experience their aromas, flavors and textures.
But other than hoping a plane to Iowa and somehow convincing a seasoned mushroom hunter to take you to his or her most treasured tract of woods (author's note: this is goddamn impossible, and I can say that from experience. The locations of reliable morel grounds are the most tightly held of secrets), how can we Angelenos get in on the foraging action? There's the Fallen Fruit approach, of course, which we wholly endorse, but there's a lot of edible goods to be had which aren't hanging over your neighbor's fence, but actually growing in the (relative) wilds of the Southland--whether in a park or along the fire roads and trails cutting through the mountains hemming in our city.
Following is Squid Ink's list, alphabetically, of 10 best and most interesting foodstuffs to be foraged for. It goes without saying that you need to be careful about what you eat that's picked from the wild, and where you pick it, so always exercise caution.