24 August 2011

Fast Food of the Gods

There is something medieval about the concept of foraging: like wassailing, it needs an 'a' in front of it. In England, this is a good time to go a-foraging, with the hedgerows full of sloes and haws and hips. With the exception of blackberries though, foraging in the hedgerows can require a leap of the imagination, or quite a bit of patience and know-how. We like crab apple jelly, but only birds appreciate crab apples straight from the tree.

Further south, by the Mediterranean, well - it's a different story. The land might be arid and dusty but there is plenty to harvest from plants growing out of stone walls, food which is ready to be eaten there and then. So many wild things are edible: figs, almonds, fennel, anise, (cactus fruit and pomegranates will require a knife). You'll never run out of garlic...

Grapes drip over the walls/garages/disused bread ovens of other people's gardens, and olive trees look sculptural around their pools. The owners may have left for the summer, so, more foraging.

A sarong becomes a toga, flip flops look almost elegant and the scene is instantly classical. It's 800 miles away from the clogs and gaiters of the peasants back home.


  1. I think our 'bible' has been Richard Mabey's 'Food for Free'.

    This year, even on the top of our low Welsh mountain looks promising indeed.

    Husband asks if pickled Ash keys are worth the effort. Any idea?

  2. News from Nowhere likes to spread good news where possible so - no comment!

  3. Just to clarify, slightly: Mr Mabey has said that he finds ash keys 'tough and bitter' unless they are pickled at exactly the right moment, at which point they are passable.
    So, from someone whose experience of pickling extends to the preserves table at the village fete, the news is bad. No.

  4. I've been doing lots of gleaning lately too here in Los Angeles. Too many figs to count....

  5. Foraging in Tinsel Town - now that would make a good blog. Wild figs or cultivated?