Once upon a forage: family hunts for wild food : edible flowers found in Germany in March with non-striving alt-meditation.
(and epic interior adventures)
I have a daughter I named Violet and I’ve never tried to eat one until I was 39 and a 9 year old suggested it. I’m pretty sure I knew it wasn’t poison, but it never occurred to me to try my daughter’s namesake.
False spring hit western Germany this year. The tulips were 2 inches up on March 2 and our little group of foragers led by a nine year old found this:
Wild violets in full bloom ! In early March? Isn’t it supposed to be the end of winter?
I’m pretty sure though I’d never have noticed unless the 9 year old I was with found them and pointed it out. It’s amazing what you can learn from the little ones, especially the quiet ones.
I’m almost 40 and never thought to try violets before. In order to have peak foodie experiences I’ve traveled across the world visiting open air markets in Thailand where the stalls are packed so tightly in the moist humid 100 deg heat with legs of pigs hanging raw from the tent. A woman swatting away the flies with a plastic fly swatter, me wondering if I can eat that and not die? Eating live octopus in Korea, the tentacles squiggling down my throat thinking, is this right? Trying to get through some mysterious shell on a prickly fish on Jeju island in Korea, thinking this tastes like total shit and the textures is like porcupine needles. Eating sushi on a conveyor belt in Kyoto with perfect little sweet potatoes pulling along my two toddlers on the perfect little scooters from London because it was way too far for them to walk. I had to wrap my scarf around the handles and eventually pull them along as we visited subtle temples with weeping willows surrounding the green gardens. Even hopping on a plane for a Friday to Sunday night in London to enjoy dinner, then get back to work Monday morning.
All of the expense and all of the planning and trouble to have a new “peak” food experience. I can remember marveling at the use of flowers as the decoration on the plate. Edible flowers seem so fancy, like you would need to buy a 20 dollar pair of “kitchen tweezers” to place on your Michelin style presentation and definitely only served on a white dish.
Yet, when wild violets spring up in my own garden between the pavers without me doing anything to them, I have never had the space of mind to think, wow these are right here, right now and in the present and they will make my dinner dish POP! I mean edible flowers! So cool. What a “nice touch”. Something for hotel restaurants and fancy dishes.
In my own yard there has been something new, delicious, fancy, and right in front of my nose. For the past three years I’ve noticed wild violets and refrained from pulling them like the other “weeds”. They are cute and frame the entrance to a new space we’ve created to allow people to walk across a rock garden to massage their feet.
It’s a yucky weed, its a poisonous plant, no it’s edible wild violets! And they are everywhere, for free.
I’ll always travel for food (if I can afford it), but maybe I could do a bit better travelling into my own front yard to experience wild food and “new” experiences of which I am so fond.
Why is it that the simplest solutions are so hard to see?
The “mental pushup” that might help is called mindfulness. For us busy body type A people, it might be helpful for managing the zoo in our head and the lack of clarity in seeing what’s right in front of us.
I mean, who names one of their own children Violet, and doesn’t have the mental clarity to even try to eat one first? Or eat one in the 13 years since she’s been born? It’s her namesake!
So here we go:
There’s a lot to it, so I’d like to work through some of these concepts with each foraging adventure. I’m not even going to pretend like I understand it fully, but maybe foraging as a fun activity can help illustrate some “exercises”. Or “mental pushups”.
And it won’t be done sitting like a flexible person, it’ll be done walking, playing, travelling, and eating! Cause sitting still is not for me! It’s very annoying that all the self-help/ yoga/ meditation stuff is some person with really loose hips sitting in a position of lotus. I mean, you have to be born that way to get into that position and if you stretch that hard you likely will pop the cartilage in your hip and not be able to run afterwards. I will never strive for that position.
So of the mindfulness “attitudes”, non-striving seems apt for this adventure. It’s not really a stretch (hee hee) to say I strive for “new” experiences as an attempt to make meaning of life.
So to develop an attitude of non-striving, instead of prioritizing planning for a far off foodie destination, I’m going to focus on the bounty of my yard.
BTW: My yard is a her for sure. I’m going to name her … Albertina. It’s Portuguese and feminine for Albert- which means “bright”. And it reminds me of Albertsons, the grocery store i grew up with in Idaho so it will definitely illicit a feeling of going somewhere for food. Also, I love Portuguese food.
The practice won’t be sitting and meditating on non-striving, but instead the physical act of observing what happens with Albertina. Then foraging, then cooking and preserving.
As far as these early March violets, there wasn’t much opportunity to take them home and make a recipe from them because we ate them up right on the spot! They do taste really good, somewhat sweet and delicate.
Next time we will try to actually make a recipe from them and share. They will be in bloom for awhile during this on-and-off Spring/Winter collision called March.
Maybe this will do as a recipe to try with the girls helping? The forage adventure will be pretty quick, walking out the front door and picking them and coming back inside. No travel required!
Next March Challenge: Wild Onions.
Will our foragers find anything useful or end up hungry?
Also Up next: A challenge to practice other mindfulness attitudes.
- Nurturing Trust
- Letting go
Thanks for reading. Let us know in the comments any questions or suggestions!