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Carpe Fraga!

Yesterday, the people who own the empty house in front of us came to tidy the yard, the yard where my woodland strawberries grow! I was upset at myself for not harvesting the strawberries the day before, but I had already spent an 1.5 hour gathering milkweed buds*, lemon balm, and sour cherries. 

The tablespoon is to give an idea of how big the buds are.  Here is another article on milkweed with recipes for preparing the buds.

Soëlie was understandably tired by the time I finished, and to top it off, I was greeted by neighbors and invited in for chat when we got back home.  So, because of my "laziness" there was a whole patch of berries ready to be turned into jam by a weedwhacker.  I hesitated for all of twenty seconds and then went to ask the gentleman pulling weeds from between flagstones if he was going to harvest the berries. He looked at me as if I was a bit batty (or it could have been a look of concentration--I don't think he was French) then told me no. "May I pick them, then, before you mow?" I asked and he consented. I have a couple of cups worth of berries now, but I doubt any more will be forthcoming from that patch this year...and I hope we are gone by next year.

I think I'm going to make a clafoutis with them. I found a recipe that calls for pears, but I don't have enough on hand, so I'll sub with some strawberries.

* Whenever I'm gathering milkweed, I smile at any passing cars or pedestrians, if ever there are any--it's a tiny rural road--because I'm always hoping someone will stop and ask me what I'm doing so that I can share my knowledge; but they never do.  On my way home, though, I met a gentlemen and exchanged greetings with him, the listener in this conversation

He looked at my full plastic sacks and asked, "Coming back from the (river) beach or from buying cheese?" 

"Neither," I said, smiling and lifting my spoils for him to see. At last, someone I can tell about milkweed! "I have sour cherries here and lemon balm and milkweed!"


"Yes, you can eat it." I dipped my hand in, ready to show him what the buds look like, saying, "I gather it just--"

He shook his head and interrupted me with; "We don't eat that here." (Here being France, I assume)

Sigh.  More for us, I guess.  But I don't mind sharing, especially not now that I've found a second patch right next to where I harvest grapes. I also found a plant that I saw at Loches, in the medieval garden, but silly me, I forgot to take a pic of its name plate. Anyone know what it is?  It's edible or medicinal but I don't know anything else about it. It has a single stalk, and as you can see in the far right picture, the leaf-growth pattern is very distinct:



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 27th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
Your sour cherries look mouthwateringly like red currants--though hey: I suspect sour cherries can be equally delicious! And yay for milkweed buds (how your season leaps ahead!)

I'm loving your links to the various milkweed and other wildfood articles. The other day, on the site of the guy you recommended when you were mentioning milkweed earlier, I read a hugely interesting piece about Into the Wild, and how even though all the evidence was that poor Chris McCandless starved to death, the notion that he ate something poisonous clings because it's a cultural myth that we love to scare ourselves with.
May. 27th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is interesting about McCandless. Poor guy indeed.

I often wonder why and how we lost so much of what must have been common food knowledge for our ancestors. I guess it came with urbanization and industrialization, and there must have always been a divide been city-dwellers and country folk. I wonder how much of it is fad and fashion, though.

Frex, here in France, during the World Wars, people ate a lot of Jewish artichokes because it is a very prolifically-producing plant. Apparently, at the end of the wars, when betters time begin to resurface, people were heartily sick of eating them, and despite them having a delicious flavor blend of artichokes and potatoes, they became pig food!

It wasn't until about 7-8 years ago, that they, along with other "forgotten vegetables," made a comeback in French cuisine. And even now, the older folk are a bit skeptical about eating them because they grew up not know them and thinking them only fit for pigs...

May. 27th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, I have that growing in my yard and I do cook it up now and then! It's quite nice.

I think part of the problem is that anything you have to eat during a time of privation is going to seem unappealing afterward by association, even if there's nothing really wrong with it. That, and things that are great for their own merits can be not-so-good if they're being used as substitutes for something else. Jerusalem artichokes are delicious as Jerusalem artichokes, but they're not as delicious as potatoes if what you want is potatoes, you know? Or like, I've never tried roasted chicory root as a drink, but I bet it's easier to enjoy as its own thing than as a coffee substitute.
May. 27th, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC)
Very true about chicory, or any substitute for that matter. When you want X, you you want X! :P
May. 27th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
we don't eat that here
Your loss, dude. Your loss.
May. 27th, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
Re: we don't eat that here
I know. Crazy. He could have at least pretended interest, but no, better to let me know how things are done around these here parts. :P
May. 27th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
Oh you crazy American, first you carry your baby, and now you are eating weird stuff.
May. 27th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
I know! I'm just a bad influence all around. Luckily there are people here who know how to keep me in line...or at leat they aren't shy about trying. :P
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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