The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
…. You’d better not go alone.’
In our case go with a lovely mixture of British ish people, Italians and Dutch. And try to ensure there is a good mix of foraging knowledge among the group so that all items edible can be identified in two to three languages.
Oh, and bring rain gear and an umbrella.
Such was our afternoon.
The rendezvous was scheduled for 14.00 but disaster struck and some prepared foraged foods took a tumble down a stair delaying the start of our walk somewhat.
Our lovely guide Kitty of Kit’s Kitchens arrived soon enough.
Within about fifty metres, we encountered countless edible delicacies. The first was just a few steps from the start.
(Apologies for inaccurate spelling in any language. And please don’t trust my recollections here as any sort of guide. The memories of our wonderful multilingual conversation may be misleading. )
And so the translation began.
Hondsdracht or Creeping Charlie. A mint family plant that did smell minty. It grows through the year from spring and the earliest leaves are the tastiest. It can be used for nettle stings. It makes good pesto too.
Next up within a few more steps, was ground elder of sevenblad which means seven leaves as that’s the number of leaf-lets. (Dutch has more logic in this case!)
At this point our italian companion explained that another name is Romeinse kervil or Roman chervil which was brought in as a food crop by the Romans.
The amount of sharing that went on was great.
In the course of the afternoon I learnt that the dreaded weed I wrote about a few weeks ago, which grows prolifically at the allotment, is a rich source of calcium and is good in tea.
We also had sample foods. Chickweed or vogel Muur was added to a fruit smoothly of apple and pear juice. It added a healthy green tinge and a good flavour. And there was me just feeding it to the hens.
We also had buckwheat pancakes with added nettle and rose petals. An interesting green and pink touch.
There were so many things to see and taste.
There were mushrooms and fungi too.
We found a plant called ‘look zonder ‘look (pronounced lock)
From the Dutch word Knoflook which means garlic, and zonder which means without. So garlic without garlic.
We harvested information. Unopened dandelion heads can be pickled and used like capers while the flowers can be eaten fresh or dried to make tea. The root can be dried and roasted to make a coffee.
Daisy’s that close at night, open when garnishing a soup and can be eaten.
Our walk was too late for berries but we all had hopes of finding something special.
The first good sign was a fairy ring.
I remember stories when I was a child that wrote about these but we’ve never seen one. The mushrooms from this ring are edible. But foraging in The Netherlands is only allowed with permission from the land owner. If there are a hundred specimens then it’s possible to take some but otherwise leave well alone.
We kept looking. Our goal?
Eekhoornbrood Now the direct translation is ‘squirrel bread’ but in the UK theses are called seps or penny bun. The Italian name is better though porcini.
And in the end we spotted them.
There’s other local walks and they go throughout the year. Kitty heads off to the dunes and into the city. She finds food everywhere.
It was a brilliant afternoon in spite of the rain.
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...