les legumes sauvages
by jemma margaret
On a run down Rue de Bourg Tibourg early one morning I saw a large brown bag of day old baguettes retrieved from a large garbage can outside a not yet open bakery. Though dumpster diving seems to be a fairly popular Parisian past-time, I would think a few times before foraging for edibles in the city environs. For one, there is a great deal of public urination. For two, noxious chemicals are very popular for cleaning and many pipes find their way to the Seine.
That said, I have taken advantage of a couple local but not that local sources of wild vegetables now that spring seems to be maybe finally be here.
While in Germany a few years ago, I quickly learned the term Brennnessel, which proliferated around all the currants and blackberries thus rendering my arms red, swollen, and stinging after an afternoon of harvesting. In French orties are more subtly named, but possess the same unpleasant effects. On the upside, stinging nettles are full of vitamins and minerals and lose all power of injury when cooked.
This still meant donning plastic gloves to rinse them out followed by an overly zealous steaming (where all nutrients may have ended up thrown out with the water). In the end, after eating five bunches over two weeks, I think I can safely conclude that Jemmas don’t like nettles.
A much more friendly sauvage specimen was purchased for a pretty penny at yesterdays organic market. Wild asparagus look not unlike stalks of wheat. I asked the purveyor about the best mode of cooking and she recommended steaming or omelettes. With this in mind, I will see what roasting does and report back tomorrow.