At forty I have become a foraging fool. I have my reasons.
For one, I try to buy as little as possible from the grocery store. Whereas most people make a grocery list and then go supplement that list by things they find on the shelves; I tend to wait to see what produce the Cute Gardener might give me from his garden in any given week as well as the bounty I might find naturally out in the open before deciding upon what else to spend my money. The CG has been a huge inspiration to me as I have watched him eat seasonally from his garden. Not only does he maintain a healthy body from working the land so to speak, but also, he eats what is fresh, ripe, nutrient rich and literally dirt to table so that there are no chemicals from preservatives or plastic packaging getting into the dinner mix. I am a fan of getting off of the large, consumerist American food products teat; the one that has us constantly buying things that we could probably find better versions of if we looked around the great outdoors or learned to cultivate on our own.
Secondly, in my herbal studies, I have found that we benefit energetically when we eat things that are grown or developed in the same geographic regions that we dwell. If we are all connected energetically (our bodies being the only pseudo-boundaries that make us actually think we are egotistically non-connected to each other and all things), then it makes sense that we would eat the dandelion greens that grow up through the cracks in our backyard sidewalks rather than send for a package of them from another country. Two like energetic things from the same place have less of a problem integrating with each other’s systems thus allowing for better digestion machinations all around. This applies to farm raised cattle just as much as the raspberry clinging to the vine in your public park.
Lastly, it’s super fun to forage; kind of like a treasure hunt. One of my heroes is a Swedish chef named Magnus Nillson who created a restaurant in his town where he serves only a few people a night with things he finds out in the landscape he calls home. Reindeer lichen, trout roe, scallops and juniper berries delight his guests who travel to eat his magnificent creations. I have begged the CG to pull over in Visalia, California so I could pilfer some fallen oranges from the freshly stripped corporate groves abandoned by the pickers. I have enjoyed a plump and juicy orange from the state capitol lawn fallen and cracked open seemingly just for me. I have scoured the beach neighborhoods of my town for loquats and pineapple guava to make jars of jam for all my girlfriends. I have swiped bizarre jelly fruits that taste half of banana and half of apricot off the towering palm tree on the corner in front of a Burbank Bob’s Big Boy. And just last week I traversed the parks near my home to bag up just fallen figs from the ancient and sprawling trees which are currently producing so much that I am sure the homeless who dwell on the grass are enjoying three meals a day.
11 figs with stems removed
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Combine figs, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid has thickened slightly and has turned a rosy, golden shade, about 6-8 minutes. Turn off the heat. Mush with a fork to desired texture. Keeps in a mason jar in the fridge for about a week.
Foraged Fig and Blue Cheese Sandwich
2 tablespoons fig jam
1/2 oz. of high quality blue cheese, crumbled
1 slice Mestemacher whole grain rye bread
Toast the bread and cut in half. Spread with the fig jam, the crumbled blue cheese and enjoy!