19 May 2010

A Bit On The Wild Side

Over the last ten years or so since I’ve been here, I’ve been shown by various people, all the herbs and other ‘edibles’ which grow wild on the terraces and in the woods.

Wild thyme grows in great clumps on the quieter terraces. Rosemary is virtually everywhere and one of my favourite ground-covering plants is Sage which spreads like a weed and which has the most beautiful lilac flowers in late spring, early summer.

Mushrooms can be found in the woods and if you’re unsure about eating what you find, you can apparently take your haul into a Pharmacy where they are supposed to identify the edible varieties for you. Then of course, there is the exquisite truffle which I had high hopes that Shadow would develop a nose for, but as he can hardly find his food in his bowl these days, it’s highly unlikely he’d ever find a truffle buried in the woods! Buying a small jar of truffle butter (the size of those hotel breakfast jam pots) is about €10 and although it lasts for ages, I’d still like Shadow to do the business and find me one – the size of a small football will do my doggy friend.

There’s the ubiquitous mint which takes over any patch of ground you introduce it to and which I was trying to eradicate until J found some cocktail recipes which call for mint.

And then there’s wild garlic (Allium Ursinum - pictured). It takes quite a bit of finding. There’s no chance of recognizing the leaves on their own but once it flowers it’s easier to spot on the terraces.

In past years, I’ve only come across it on our land very occasionally, so rarely in fact, that I always take time to stop and admire the beautiful small pink flowers and rub them between my fingers to release the smell of garlic.

This year however, it’s everywhere. It’s even growing in plant pots on the terrace and as I planted those pots, know what went into them and haven’t introduced anything, the fact that we now have wild garlic growing in them, and flourishing, is a mystery.

The wild garlic bulb is not like the cloves you get in the shops, the bulb is more like a shallot onion with its skin removed. It’s small, round and white with tiny seeding bulbs clustered around it. I’ve not tried cooking it yet although apparently you use it just like you would ‘normal’ garlic but the leaves and even the flowers are supposed to be an amazing addition to a green salad so maybe when I stop being a ‘salad dodger’ as they say in Scotland, I’ll try some.

In the meantime, I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, Shadow has been rooting around looking for truffles and has inadvertently spread the garlic all round the garden? Good boy Shadow.

1 comment:

Allison said...

Yummmo, if you ever do find truffles in the backyard, send some my way :) It must be nice having all those things at your disposal...where I live, they've torn down all yards/forests to build more huge homes, so they've probably destroyed any chance of wild herbs and things here!
Thanks for your kind words, Tom! I look forward to reading your blog when I get home from China! :)