Monday, March 19, 2012

Ramped Up

It's spring and the weeds are rejoicing all over - especially in my lawn and herb garden.

Dandelion salad, anyone?

You might laugh, but in the villages of the world, nothing is wasted.

I remember one of my husband's aunt's reminiscing on purslane. She was a city dweller through and through then, but she was old enough to remember when country life was a way of life for her parents. She collected a whole basket full from the weed-choked vegetable garden behind the summer house. Then she picked off the leaves and cooked them up with some onions and olive oil. Salt to taste. I thought it was odd, so I never tried it.

Then my father-in-law came home with a generous bunch of peppery arugula. As it came from an actual market stall, I was less wary, but my initial response was: "Is this cow food?" Everybody laughed at me. (Yeah - having an American bride in the house was a source of great entertainment.) I do eat baby arugula today, but the big leaves still don't make it to my plate.

Even more interesting, a stray relative who stopped in for a visit upped the game to stinging nettle. She cooked that down like spinach and ate it. Supposedly, the stuff has lots of good vitamans. Not for me. I stopped at the 'stinging' part of stinging nettle.

I've expanded my taste over the years to include all sorts of plants in my herb garden. Sorrel and arugula are a standard now, and even my kids like to roast wild onions on the fire when we run out of marshmallows. It's these onions that I'm working into an ms at the moment. I think onions are the easiest to identify, and the least likely candidate for reader objection.

Here in the south, wild spring leeks called ramps are a delicacy. I even read an article in Town and Country about them recently. If that's any indication of the gourmet appeal of wild foods, then pretty soon the village folk won't have any left for their tables.


Carolyn V said...

My grandma used to make dandelion wine (or tea...I can't remember). Ew. It just sounds awful, but she loved it. We have wild leeks all over the side of our yard. I never thought of roasting them. I'm going to have to try that out!

LTM said...

I had a feeling you could eat wild onions... :D True story: In my last "new" yard (came w/the house), it was gorgeously planted. I thought I'd get out and pull weeds. When the old homeowner came over and saw what I'd done, she said, "Oh, you don't like Iris?" ... I'd "weeded" all my La. Iris thinking it was wild onion. D'oh! ;p <3

Old Kitty said...

I remember when in France - esp in the tiny villages - people would be gathering dandelions, wild ransoms, onions etc and I remember thinking - that's brilliant - nothing is wasted! Yay!

Take care
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