June 21, 2013

Feasting by Foraging

Yellow-cracked bolete, Porcini, Gem-Studded Puffballs, Lion's Mane Mushroom

I'm happy that foraging is coming back around to being acceptable. For a long time in this country, foraged foods were equated with poverty and want. People who ate "weeds" were thought to be a bit nuts, put in a category of crazy naturalists. I never understood this stigma. Having grown up in a household with a European background, and a healthy dose of science thrown in, foraging was a natural and smart thing to do. If there is food growing outside your door, why not use it? 

In many cultures, foraging is considered a fun, healthy and sometimes competitive pursuit. In some places, foraging is a necessary part of survival. Nature provides, we partake. None of this is crazy, it's just common sense. 


Razor Clams, after blanching

Rosehips in Syrup

When I travel to Europe to visit various friends, I always make note of the season and what might be ripe for foraging. My friends and I plan hikes and trips around what we can find. In Germany in spring, we look for bärlauch, a wild leek akin to our ramps; mushrooms like morcheln (morels) and puffballs; cattail tubers; and dandelions - dente di leone in Italian, Löwenzahn in German and dent-de-lion in French. Many cafe menu boards advertise dandelion salad in the spring. And it isn't cheap! All these things can be found here, too. Summertime brings marshmallow plant (malva); wild fennel and wood sorrel; nettles; sea beans (salicornia); and salmon berries, blackberries and wild tayberries. Autumn's haul is full of mushrooms of many varieties; rose hips; seaweeds and shellfish. Every season, in every climate, there are wild foods to be found and eaten.

Fresh Seaweed for soup

Free food you've found yourself always tastes better, somehow.


MitchyLR said...

This is something I learned about when I was living in Sweden. Forgaging, particularly for mushrooms, was something my (then) Swedish girlfriend did a lot. I was never very good at identifying the correct types though, so I was usually relegated to carrying the baskets!! LOL.

Gayle said...

True, Mitchy - I never just try anything I'm not positive about. It sure is fun finding goodies outside. There's a trip to get sea beans and seaweed in my near future.


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