I took a stroll through my instagram photos today (and you can too if you’re curious https://instagram.com/knifeforkswoon/ ) to figure what things I had figured were worth capturing and sharing lately. Those who know me and follow along on my largely domestic adventures are hardly surprised by the number of photographs of found fruit. Those who know me in real life know these pictures are just skimming the surfae of my addiction. I pick all the time, loads more than I document; I’ve been doing this for years.
My first foraging was sweet: nipping the ends from honeysuckle blossoms and sucking the honeyed-floral nectar in droplets at each flower’s center. Divine.
The flowers sufficed for awhile. I would often snatch one as I walked by and enjoy the sweetness and redolent aroma of my childhood.Then I found something with more substance. Fruit. Fifteen years later in the center of San Francisco city I found blackberry bushes and then what has become my personal foraging paramount: sour cherries. I knew then that God loved me. Trees full of free sour cherries. The jam. The pies. The surprising lack of competition. I reluctantly told a few people about the treasure I had discovered, but no one else seemed to care or pick them.
Cherry plums from the public golf course parking lot. Spiced, sweet and a tangy finish; all the best of plums and cherries in one fabulous little fruit. And picking them is probably public service by preventing them from nailing cars as they drop in the parking lot, right? They’re begging to be made into jam. Where is my kitchen when I need it? #foraging
Weeks ago, foraging tiny, magenta-fleshed cherry plums from a tree in front of the city public golf course I was stopped by a woman who asked what I was doing. I happily, generously announced my find and asked if she had tried them. She hadn’t. And she didn’t have any interest to try, she liked what she could buy at the grocery store. I felt sorry for her.
My favorite thing about foraging is not just the free factor, which is very, very good, but the adventure in it; trying something new, the hunt to find it, the thrill of having something I didn’t expect or garden. Flavors I can’t find elsewhere. The satisfaction of picking by myself, for myself. The wild nutrition in these wild edibles. And the exquisite delight of fresh flavors you can’t find at the grocery store.
I’m always on the lookout, keeping my eyes open to the world of flavors growing around me. And when I spot something I know is safe and it’s free for the picking, I’ll get right to it. I’ve foraged bushels and buckets and baskets of blackberries, mulberries, Juneberries, cherries, plums, cactus pears, figs, and grapes. Arm loads of lamb’s quarters and many happy handfuls of sorrel, sprigs of mint and so many chives. I’m not sure why anyone would need to pay for rosemary in my neighborhood. Flowers I’ve found have scented my jams and gracefully garnished my dishes.
While the hope of finding more fruit to forage may be the most delicious part of my morning runs, it is the person foraging has made me that really tops my favorites list. I’m more engaged in the world around me, more observant, more connected and more aware of the passage of time and seasons. The flavors of the area are lodged in my memories. The world isn’t limited to the tastes at the grocery store, and thank heaven, the flavors and scenery is ever so much lovelier outside, even if they aren’t quite as reliable as the produce department.
Are you a forgager? What’s your favorite find?