Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mommy, why is Daddy feeding us weeds?

What do you see in the picture above? Ignore the fuzziness and lack of composition. This is one of the reasons that I don't have pictures on my blog. I guess I should do a post about that some time.
I am talking about the bug. Well, not actually about that particular bug but that I found a real live bug on a weed in a front yard garden in Toronto. This particular weed is a lamb's quarter. It tastes a little like spinach when cooked and can be eaten raw. There is a strong chlorophyll flavour. If green was a flavour than this would be a good representation. Behind the leaves there is a dandelion whose leaves can be used for salads, roots for tea or coffee drink, and the flower can be made into wine or tempura.

All of this is made possible by the ban of pesticides in Toronto. This is not the real point but rather the reemergence of unwanted plants as foodstuffs. I went to the Leslieville Farmer's Market and bought some weeds this past weekend. The vendor didn't call them that but I recognize them from my lawn pullings. I bought some purslane and could have bought a tincture made of borage. It will not be long before we see some more of these older crops that may include lovage and other old time greens that are more in fashion for ground cover rather than culinary purposes.

Purslane is a sour green that tastes between lemon and vinegar. It can be used in a variety of ways such as salad, soup or fried. When fried, it becomes sticky and mucilaginous like okra.

Now the idea of sour in our diet is not new. I put on a medieval feast around two years ago and found that most of the recipes were more delicate and herbal with accents of sour. I really should post that menu. It was very enlightening. Other recipes called for herbs such as lovage, borage, dandelion, and sorrel.  From Absinthe to Zest : an alphabet for food lovers by Alexandre Dumas has reference to some of these being typical in a 18th century kitchen herb garden. These greens are now making a comeback. Sometimes all it takes is to look in your front yard at the weeds that are crowding out your grass. 

I dislike grass so much that maybe I will see if some of these ground covering plants can replace my grass and replenish my larder.

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