Another foraged breakfast this morning in the company of our forager friend, Chris, an NHS doctor who also runs (also on Airbnb experiences) – foraging courses in Somerset, with fungi his speciality, and our garden as one of his course locations. He was ecstatic to find, for the second year running, a great crop of oyster mushrooms growing on a tree trunk (probably beech) which I use in a border for my leaf mould pile, nettle and comfrey patch – otherwise known by Rory as ‘more bleep bleep weeds’.

So – free of charge – once again we had wild garlic leaves and capers (fresh, not pickled this time – a shot of garlic right there in each tiny green ball), garlic mushroom leaves but with sweet woodruff flowers this time, and the bane of my life in the garden – ground elder. All the leaves of it are edible but the new shoots (and we have no shortage of them, sadly) are the most tasty. (It was actually brought across by the Romans as a herb, and in some countries is apparently sold in local markets as a potherb.) Plus oyster mushrooms sauteed in the fat of the crispy bacon sprinkles, smoked salmon, a soft-boiled bantam egg and scrambled eggs from our chickens, and artisan bread from the Taunton Thursday farmers’ market.

I was reflecting on the reasons for foraging –¬† a built-in desire to find something for nothing, a desire for organic produce straight from the earth, and a desire to hark back to the ways of our ancestors. But it’s more than that – it’s foraging for our future, not just for the past. Respecting the land and what it yields even if as a gardener it drives me insane; and knowing that eating in this way is good for our health (if we know what we’re eating – as per Chris’ tag-line, ‘Never munch on a hunch‘), and has to be good for the planet – paying attention to a healthy balance with nature.

On a lighter note, we were bantering over puns and quips – not mushroom for error; ink caps – mushrooms to write home about; puffball – the mushroom full of its own importance; know your onions around alliums; the moral of sorrel is…; dandelions – fine and dandy food; respect your (ground) elders; viola odorata should never play second fiddle to other edible flowers; primula¬† vulgaris – prim and proper despite its name; and learn your chicken of the woods from other edible goods. Can never resist playing with words. More suggestions welcome!



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