Foraging in Lobetal, Bernau Berlin

My friend Sylee organized for us to go on a foraging walk last saturday.

Wild plants have to fight to survive, so they pack a much heftier nutritional punch than commercially grown vegetables that are mollycoddled with fertilizers and the like.  Apparently, chimpanzees, our closest relative in the wild, eat a diet of fruit and foraged greens.  While the bulk of our diet is made up of grains, flours and meat.  This was generally the gist of the opening talk given to us by our foraging guide, Elisabeth Westphal.

Then we set out on the dirt paths in the forest around Lobetal Dorf.

After spending about half an hour trying to swallow, dry sometimes hairy leaves that tasted mostly identical and promised to fight “der Schleim” or phlegm.  I started to think “Don’t we live twice as long as chimpanzees, anyway?” and “Well, I’m sure if chimpanzees had a choice between hairy green leaf and say salad nicoise, they would probably choose the latter.” Let’s face it, they would probably eat toothpaste right out of the tube, given the choice.  And if slime is really such a problem, maybe we should call the ghostbusters?

But then we moved on to some more interesting edible greens.  Wood sorrel; a small, clover like plant, made up of three heart-shaped leaves, tender and sour.  I had visions of it on strawberry tarts.  The young shoots of pines, succulent, with a strong resin taste, I could imagine them in a salad of olives, capers and tomatoes.  Wild garlic flowers, a whisper of garlic, which I scattered straight onto the pasta salad I had brought along for lunch. Read more of this post

The Mulberry Tree (free food tastes better!)

The light of my life, apple of my eye - aka the little dictator - had sleep difficulties from her very first days on planet earth.  I was assured by all that she would grow into a sleep routine…almost 17 months now and still waiting for her to prove the old adage “sleeping like a baby.”  

Ach, well…  It simply meant that I found use for another expression “every cloud has a silver lining”.  I learned from about month two that if I adapted Newton’s law of motion - by making sure that the “object” (her bugaboo) remained in “motion” for the entire duration of her ever so delicate sleep - I could actually get her to sleep!  As for the silver lining part, when you are pounding the streets of London for hours on end you start to see things you haven’t seen before.  

In Belsize Park alone I found; elderflowers (for making cordial), wild garlic, figs (hanging over a fence- so public property right?), blackberries and a mulberry tree.  The mulberry tree belongs to a block of flats so technically speaking I shouldn’t have been picking them.  But this tree is full of berries so I couldn’t bear to see them splattered across the pavement!  (If anyone wants the exact coordinates of this tree, email me and I will let you know - although you can not hold me responsible for any wrath you might incur!)

While I was visiting Bucharest this weekend and walking my little treasure through my father’s garden.  I spotted two mulberry trees!  Luckily, I now need to push the buggy only until she falls asleep and then I am free!  So there I sat, contentedly eating mulberries and I came to the realization that free (foraged) food just tastes better!  

Of course there have been countless books written on this subject , Valentine Warner seems to be the poster child for this particular movement, but the penny dropped in that moment.  

  • It’s fresh - so it tastes better
  • It’s free - so in this recession its nice not to have to shell out
  • It satisfies our basic hunter gatherer instinct 
  • We could potentially get in trouble or fall into the bin we are precariously balancing over - so there is a slight adrenalin kick!

Bullet points are hardly going to get the message across, so just go on and try it yourself!


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