Foraging

As part of the investment of my creativity I decided to strike out of the indoors and explore some more open spaces. Not wanting to travel too far I was able to make an attempt at foraging some edible goodness from within twenty minutes of my front door step. The aim of the exercise was to catch and cook something which was not only edible but something that someone may actually want to eat.

Foraging is searching for wild food resources.

Wikipedia

There is no such thing as a free lunch

There were two items from a book titled ‘Wild foraging in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’ by Rachel Lambert which I thought were realistic given my location, time scale and ability. The first was Alexanders Risotto and the second Three Cornered Leek Pesto. Spoiler Alert, I only managed one of them. Long story short, the Alexander needed for the risotto looked a bit dodgy so we decided not to risk it.

The majority of the ingredients involved in making the pesto were going to be free cutesy of Cornwall’s non urban attributes. Technically all of the ingredients could be foraged, however I challenge anyone to forage Walnuts. Or even Olive Oil. Let me know how this goes for you. Three cornered leeks ( often mistaken for Wild Garlic ) and Stinging Nettles are in abundance which is great.

Wild Food Foraging in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly - Rachel Lambert
Three Cornered Leek

What’s really going on?

We live in a society which is overflowing with both abundance and waste at the same time. One can get pretty much any kind of food all year round from their local supermarket. I remember, not all that long ago I decided to cut out all chains. ( i.e. Tesco, Whetherspoons, Costa et al. ) Buying anything on a Sunday was a bit of a nightmare as well as some foods you simply couldn’t get without spending a fortune. I am thinking of cheese. Where would you buy your cheese from if the shop needed to have fewer than five outlets? We have all learnt to accept this way of life, but maybe we can forage back some of that seasonal satisfaction!

And then what

I should mention at this point that I had help, other than Ms Lambert’s book.

~ INTERLUDE ~

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce my guide for this outing, Nancy. Nancy is into plants. The way she got in to plants was from a very young age. The details are a bit hazy but she thinks that it started when she was given a book of flower fairies. When she would go out with her parents she started to notice the flowers from the picture books. Her parents were bird spotters, or watchers, or something. Not ‘twitchers’, though. What ever they were called, they liked to identify birds. Nancy wasn’t all that interested in looking at birds so they used to keep her entertained by helping her to identify the plant life.

~ END INTERLUDE ~

Rather than tediously regale you the reader with a run down of what happened, I am going to encourage you to go and do it for yourself. I think we would all enjoy that more.

The aftermath

Cleaning. I spent a lot of time processing everything that we gathered, washing it all a few times as well as extracting the best of what we had. The ‘cooking’ process just involved blitzing everything together. Fun fact. After gathering all the stinging nettles to your kitchen, just three minutes in boiling water will remove their sting.

During the prep we did try and work out how much of everything we were going to need and then forage accordingly. As it happens neither myself nor Nancy were great at guessing quantities and we ended up with enough pesto for about ten people. We had some for dinner, took some to the office and gave some to friends. I was pleasantly surprised by its reception actually. It was all very tasty.

Ingredients on a board
Pasta and pesto

On reflection

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise but foraging feels a bit like hard work. Don’t get me wrong, it was a pleasure, but it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. There is plenty out there which is edible and a variety of forageable things. You could even include fishing as part of the practice. As I touched upon earlier, some plants looked like they had gone over already and so we were not comfortable sampling them. The supermarkets have trained us out of thinking of food as seasonal which is both a shame and amazing at the same time.

I could easily imagine this to become a part of everyday life. I can imagine the monthly pesto parties where communities get together to make great vats of the stuff to share around. Could one live off of foraging? I shouldn’t think so, but I don’t think that really matters. In a society where one can buy microwavable burgers already in their buns, I think it is important that we keep hold of that connection to food in the wild.

Contact

Venn Creative, 59-61 Killigrew Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3PF

01326 377 105 | studio@venncreative.co.uk