Starved… that’s one way to phrase what would have happened to me if I had relied on my skills of getting food directly from mother nature (wild berries, wild plants). It was a try, it was yummy, and it certainly was not enough to drive my hunger away.
The initial inspiration came from a book called “Essbare Wildbeeren und Wildpflanzen” (eatable wild berries and wild plants). It is by a chap called Detlev Henschel and – am sorry – all in German. I bought this one after having read a rather remarkable book by the same chap. He paddled long distances with his kayak, the book I read was a tour on the Baltic Sea, with him only eating what he found wherever his day ended.
I do know a few wild plants and berries. However, apart from my own, parents’ or friends’ garden (and, of course, the local market) I have not really plundered nature’s huge resources on eatable wild plants. This little book was going to the basis for my personal cuisine-adventure – that was the plan, and it kind of worked well.
Eatable daisies, clover and dandelions
“Kind of worked well” simply means: I have combed various grounds for daisies, clover, dandelions and other wild plants and have successfully prepared a (tiny) meal out of it. I have not used it as an addition to a “normal” family salad, I wanted the full meal based on freely available healthy stuff. The result was, apart from huge grins and silly comments by my fellow family members, quite ok. Luckily I was not that hungry…
It took me two hours to fill a small bowl. I washed and cleaned the lot, used some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper. To complete the dinner, I poured myself a glass of red wine and… stumbled on my way to the table. Half of “my personal wild plants salad” fell to the floor, so this meant back to cleaning the whole lot again. By the time I started eating I was really hungry, and as you can imagine the small bowl of wild plants was by no means enough. How Detlev Henschel managed to paddle and exercise all day plus collect his food in the evening is a big mystery to me (he usually spent two hours or more on pre-dinner activities). ‘Mystery’ especially as I know how I react when I get really, really hungry 😉
I’ve also picked a couple of very young leaves from a birch tree. Some of them I have included in the evening’s salad – a very interesting addition and not too bad at all. The rest I have used for making some tea. The tea was fine, but… never ever again will I drink two cups of birch tree tea just before going to bed. This tea dramatically increases the urge to urinate, so drinking lots of it in the late afternoon or evening is not a very good idea (unless insomnia or your toilet is a good friend of yours).
To close this off, just a very brief comment about location of the above (not the birch, of course). Before you start picking and digging, you might want to check whether the place you have chosen for collecting your food is a rather frequented area or not. And if it is a rather “busy” route, do lots of dogs get taken for a stroll? I know, wild animals, night creatures, etc. will very likely have sniffed or peed onto your dinner as well… just a thought: Try to find a quiet, deserted meadow, and after all the hard work – enjoy your meal!!
Your local eatable wild plants
That was my initial experience (and fun) with eatable wild plants. There are lots of sites around that explain a lot about your local plants, which ones you can eat and which plants are the dangerous ones.
What about you, do you also (occasionally) include wild berries and plants in your meals?
App for plant identification?
One more thing: Just in case you happen to stumble upon a pretty cool app that automatically identifies the (photographed) plant in front of you, please do let me know. Although being outside is a favourite activity of mine, one thing I do not really like is standing in the middle of a field, staring at a plant and trying to find out which one it is. And I do get short-tempered when being hungry…
One of the apps I am trying out right now is Pl@ntNet. Am still getting used to it and will let you know how it went. The first tries look pretty cool and promising.