Urban foraging

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Spring is about around the corner in the northern hemisphere and the time for serious foraging is going to be at hand again soon.

Some plants that can be foraged for food have, this winter of 2011/2012, not even stopped growing really. One of them is, for instance, Dandelion. The only problem is that, even those that I specifically grow in the garden, have been taken as lettuce by the pesky pigeons.

There are many other foods that can be foraged in the urban environment, including and especially in parks and open spaces. However, other places too hold culinary staples and delights.

Many an old Horse Chestnut tree may have Oyster Mushrooms growing on them and Oyster Mushrooms are great eating indeed and also add flavors to stews and such, especially when dried.

Other foods of the urban wildspaces in the same way as of the suburbs and the countryside are nettles – nettle tea and nettle soup, as well as nettle greens – and plantain (no, not the thing that looks like a banana).

Furthermore, also still in spring, and then for most of the year there are the plants in the rumex family which are all but a wild spinach.

Some wild foods are easy to spot others are not.

Who could miss the bright yellow flowers of dandelions for example? Sautee the young, tender leaves in olive oil or use the young flowers as a garnish. Use the leaves in salads as you would rocket for it is, basically, wild rocket.

Dandelion and nettles cooked together like spinach are what in Greece cuisine is called Hortes, meaning greens, and which is a common side dish in that country's cooking.

With spring approaching dandelions and nettles could and actually should be on the menu and here is the beginning of foraging in the urban environment for dandelions can be found almost everywhere. As, for that matter, can nettles.

Nettles, aside from being cooked like spinach, can be turned into a great soup and are known to have medicinal benefits. Nettles are also good when brewed in a tea.

So get out there and forage... but make sure that you know what you are picking. In addition make sure everything is well and thoroughly washed before consumption.

© 2012