Forage with care
- 13 Nov 06, 01:57 PM
Indeed many of my ethical correspondents seem to have particular fruit trees and bushes that they remember fondly. One favourite of mine is an almond tree my daughters and I came across as we walked through a North London street a couple of Sundays ago. The nuts were still on the branches and though it took a bit of battle to crack them, the almonds were the finest I have ever tasted.
We also found some fantastic field mushrooms. We fried them in butter with a little garlic and ate them on thick slices of buttered toast.
In fact my family’s foraging is going to be a source of Christmas presents. Sara has decreed that we should have an ethical yuletide as possible and that means avoiding the festive circus of consumerism.
To that end we collected a big bag of sloes a few weeks ago and Bee and the girls spent an afternoon steeping them in gin and sugar. We’ll decant the resulting sloe gin before Christmas and give it to select friends and family. Don’t worry, the girls may have enjoyed making the gin, they certainly won’t be drinking any of it.
But I’ve got a cautionary tale for would-be urban foragers. Theo, a colleague in the Newsnight office, recalls what happened to Alan, the father of a friend of his.
Alan is a keen forager and had ventured out in search of mulberries in a London park. He wore dark clothes so any stains from the berries’ bright red juice wouldn’t show and collected his prodigious harvest in a black bin liner.
He’d gathered a good few pounds of the sweet soft fruit and was on his way home, black bag slung over his shoulder and hands stained a livid crimson, when a police car screeched to a halt beside him. Two officers jumped out and ordered him to stop in his tracks.
Had he fallen foul of the draconian laws on foraging discussed in my previous blog? No. It was a case of mistaken identity. A police alert had gone out to look out for a man who had murdered his former lover and dismembered her body. The policemen saw Alan, gore-drenched from his exploits among the mulberry bushes, and thought they had caught the killer quite literally red-handed.
I am happy to report that Alan escaped without injury or charge. Indeed Theo tells me the mulberry compote was particularly flavoursome that year.
So do you have a funny story about foraging or a favourite fruit tree? Or do you think us urban foragers are felonious fruitcakes? Either way do write in and tell us.