Crédit Photo : François Couplan

François Couplan, discovering wild plants

François Couplan is an ethnobotanist. For more than forty-five years, he has organized courses to discover wild plants and takes participants on a journey of observation, touch, smell and taste.

From their virtues, their use, their dangers, plants make speak about them if we want to listen to them. François Couplan knows them by heart and talks to us about them with all the passion that drives him.

The knowledge of plants

For thousands of years, humans have fed on plants. Especially those that grew around him in nature and that were accessible to him. But recently in view of our history, these plants have been neglected, deemed unworthy of civilized people. François Couplan tries to give back to the plants the look they deserve.

Photo credit: François Couplan

In 2008, he created the Practical College of Ethnobotany where he developed training courses dedicated to plants. The training entitled ‘Use of wild plants in cooking’ is mainly aimed at professional cooks who wish to learn about wild plants in order to integrate them into their recipes.

Wild gastronomy

Working with wild plants cannot be improvised. When a Chef is confronted with the multiplicity and complexity of plants, technical elements can be missing. For François Couplan, it is above all a matter of doing things seriously, because the subject is technical, the plant is not a vegetable and it must therefore be worked differently.

François Couplan has worked with more than two hundred Chefs around the world, notably with Marc Veyrat and René Redzepi to name a few. 

In order to be able to cook plants, all you need is a curious and open-minded Chef, who is ready to discover new flavours, new textures and different ways of working.

François also trains producers who sometimes have little knowledge of their environment and who wish to understand its full potential. 

Photo credit: François Couplan

As for the customer, his discovery of plants in a plant-based menu can put him in a state of curiosity. He often comes without any knowledge, with confidence and without any particular expectations, so the experience with this strand of nature is often positive.

Nature that teaches and transmits

For François Couplan, nature is what is not built by human beings. It is a wild environment where one feels emotion. 

Plants make it possible to reconcile man and nature, and beyond understanding it better, it would allow us to find avenues of evolution for our society.

Faithful to his convictions, François Couplan has written several books to pass on his knowledge to the greatest number of people. His latest work ‘What Plants Have to Tell Us’ invites us to listen to this nature that we are so lacking. 

For this man in love with the earth, plants offer us a chance to modify the domineering attitude that we display from the height of our omnipotence by coming down from our pedestal and by giving importance to all living things.

Photo credit: François Couplan

Plants invite us to get out of our anthropocentrism, out of this only human world in which we go crazy, and to take an interest in them, not only for their virtues but for their own existence. It is indeed possible to develop a true relationship with plants which begins with the use of all our senses and which can take us into a universe of endless wonder.

Much more than botany, knowing, gathering and consuming wild plants, far from being a fashion, turns out to be a new and necessary conception of life.

Translated by Malvika Kathpal

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