Everywhere we look, there is wild fennel. It loves the stony ground here. It is a perennial herb, and doesn’t develop into the fleshy bulb that we are used to seeing in the supermarkets. But it is still edible. It is one of the prized targets of the locals, seen walking along roads and paths every day of the year, bag in hand, foraging for edible wild food. Easily collected are the seeds of the fennel plant, which can be dried and used all year round.
The first green fronds in spring are wonderful snipped off and used as a topping for stews or as an addition to salads. By the end of summer, the stems are tall and are drying out, bearing yellow flowers and bracts of immature seeds. These seeds eventually fall but the stems stay in place, turning silver and black over the winter, adding welcome shape and colour to the winter landscape here.
Please, always take care when foraging for wild food. Before you eat anything, make sure it is edible. This is a useful little book, Common Wildflowers of Spain by Austin Colwell [Santana Books].
5 to remember
gigante – giant
inmaturo/a – immature
una bráctea – a bract
alimentos silvestres – wild food
comestible – edible
The idea of collecting wild food from the countryside seems something from a bygone age or for devoted foodies. But here it is quite common to see people out for their afternoon stroll on a country road, carrying a bag. At this time of year they are looking for wild asparagus and herbs. Soon it will be fresh spring leaves and fennel. In the autumn, mushrooms.
We just missed the asparagus season this year. Espárrago – or párrago as Pablo calls it – is easy to spot once you know what you are looking for. If you don’t it is possible to trample over it and destroy your lunch. It most commonly resembles grass. Once you recognise the leaves of the plant, then you start to see it everywhere. It grows in unploughed, undisturbed soil, so most commonly alongside tracks and up hillsides.
5 to remember
buscar algo – to forage for something [supper]
de antaño – bygone
devoto/a – devoted
un/una gourmet – a foodie
los hongos – the mushrooms
It took two hours of wandering along the tracks to pick this bunch of wild asparagus yesterday. It grows best on wild undisturbed ground and can be difficult to spot, even when you’re standing on it. The stems are impossibly tough, so we’ve learned to trim off the tips and avoid the flowering stems which are not good to eat. This is as different from cultivated asparagus as you can get. Some are green, some purple, some are as slender as grass, others are more recognizably asparagus… all of it is edible. Our preferred method is to blanch in boiling water, then add to scrambled eggs. Today we eat it with crusty bread and a cold beer, sitting on the terrace, listening to the poop-poop-poop of a hoopoe somewhere in the valley.
5 to remember
el revuelto – the scrambled eggs
los huevos rotos – the broken eggs
salvaje – wild
el tallo – the stem
la punta – the tip
If you like this, try these:-
Mustardy Salmon Salad
Pasta with Gorgonzola and Pecans
Cheesy Nutty Herby Mushrooms
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Foraging for our lunch: wild asparagus #Recipe in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-ed