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Food For Free (Part 3) - Create your own foraged feast

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Edible ecosystems

Paradoxically, it may be that reataurants are doing most to, devlop these rules of conduct. The new wild food recipes use very small quantities of their ingredients. The ways in which they are cooked – often using high technology to frost, compress, vacuum-seal or rapid-pickle – are desgned tos highlight flavours and inspire reflection on the natural world’s inventiveness, not invite us to pig out.

Description: “Blueberries surrounded by their natural environment”

“Blueberries surrounded by their natural environment”

Simon Rogan’s pairing of lightly smoked egg yolk with sprigs of rock samphire is a revelatory expliration of the experiece of sulphurousnee in nature. Rene Redzepi even conjures up miniature ecosystems in his dishes. “Blueberries surrounded by their natural environment” evokes autumn heaths, with scoops of spruce and bilberry ice cream in a salad of wood sorrel anf heather tops.

I think I’d be straying into the gastronomic equivalent of Pseud’s Corner if I were to call dishes like this works of art. But they have much the same intentions as landscape art, to encourage us to experience and think about the variety texture of the wild, rather than simply satisfy our hunger.

Wayside gourmet treats

I find that I have drifted this way myself, by evolving into a wayside gourmet treats. Sun-dred English prunnes from a damson bush strimmed while it was in fruit. A single wild blackcurrant santched from a Norfolk Broads banjside as our boat slipped past. Wilding apples, sprung from thrown-away cores and bird droppings, are a favourite.

Description: genetic diversity It is not known when the plant was first

genetic diversity It is not known when the plant was first

These Delices catch all that’s exhilarating about foraging: a sharpness of taste, place and season, and echoes of the vast, mostly lost, genetic diversity of cultivated fruits.

I’ve found apples that tasted pf pears, fizzed like sherbet and smelled of quince, and still dream of chancing on a descendant of the lost Reinette Grise de St Ogne, with its lengendary fennel savour. On doesn’t need a bushel to get a thrill from that kind of discovery.

The 1930 fruit gourmer Edward Bunyan, meandering through his gooseberry patch and plicking the odd serendipitous berry, spoke of the pleasures of “ambulant consumption… the freedom of the bush should be given to all visitors”.

The freedom of the bush: it’s a liberty we should all enjoy, but also respect.

Create your own foraged feast

Why not try this gourmet tasting menu using seasonal foraged ingredients, created by Simon Rogan of L’Enclume.

Description: A foraged feast

A foraged feast

The Menu serves four

Starter: mew potaoes with fat hen and os-eye daisies

Main: grilled bulrush, hen’s egg, coastal herbs and black mustard

Dessert: poached Japanese knotweed with crispy oats and elderflower

Your recipe for grilled bulrush

·         16 x 10cn bulrush shoots

·         250ml water

·         250g grapeseed oil

·         30g fennel seeds

·         30g coriander seeds

·         120g coastal herbs (sea purslane, sea beet, sea aster, sea blite or sea kale)

·         50g butter

·         100g black mustard leaf

·         Vinegar

·         4 x hen’s eggs

·         1 star anise

·         Salt and pepper

1.    Separate the outer leaves of the bulrush shoots from the core.

2.    Remove the inner core bu pulling it from the base, and peel its outermost layers until you reach the soft edible part.

3.    Boil the water with the oil, fennel anf coriander seeds, and add the burush. Simmer until tender. Cool in the liquor, and grill when cool (a barbecue is ideal).

4.    Meanwhile, cook the herbs in butter and a splash of water, and season; do the same for the black mustard.

5.    Now poach the eggs in plenty of water with a touch of vinegar. Remove from the water anf drain.

6.    Divide the mustard leaves between four bowls, the place a poached edd on each, followed by four bulrush shoots.

7.    Scatter with the herbs and some of their cooking liquor.

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