Favorite Forage

The month I was away in the US(aug/sept) both of my favorite foraged foods, hongos azules(blue mushrooms) and ilamas were in season. It was a bummer. I consoled myself with the wide variety of good cheap wine available in the US.

This is a photo of last years’ mushroom harvest. VSVEVGs ’logo is also a photo I took of the spectacular mushrooms, which are so blue they bleed blue when you break them, unfortunately they turn the color of a regular mushroom when cooked.

Blue mushrooms taste like tilth, really good dirt, such as I imagine Iowa farmers are hoping to taste when they sample their fields in the spring.  One might even convince kids to like mushrooms if they were umpa lumpa blue, though a friend of my says they are more pitufo,(smurf) blue.

Wild mushrooms are harvested at a higher altitude than where we live, requiring a day trip up the mountain. Every family has their own secret spot in the oak forests of Cero Frio, just like when I was little girl hunting morels with my Mom and Dad in the Iowa woodlands. Hunting mushrooms is for me, a ritual of nostalgia.

I was lucky with ilamas, my sister- in-law has late fruiting trees, she knows I love them and saved one for me. They come in this pink, which is my favorite, and also a white variety which is good but doesn’t have the complexity the rosas(pinks) do. They taste like raspberry custard. They’re fun to eat, very similar to a bread fruit, you remove the segments each of which has a large seed and suck off the creamy flesh. They really are fantastic, especially if you delight in messy fruit eaten with your fingers as I do.

Finally, this strange and entertaining treat we enjoy  in October, I have no idea what it is, Felipe calls it peineta.

Each of the orange flower sprays sits in a  tiny cup of nectar, you press your face to the stamens and suck out the juice, it tastes like thin, light, fruity honey, and because the flower is pollinating when you’re done your face is covered in bright orange pollen. I never feel more akin to the insect world than when sipping peineta, unless I’m eating one!Don’t miss next month’s forage installment, I will teach you how to eat a live bug! Which is amazingly,  Very Simple, Very Easy and Very Good.

The Radical Plate

“Every minute that you entertain yourself without paying some corporation to entertain you, you’re acting radically. If you grow even one plateful of your own food rather than buy it from the food corporations, you’re acting radically.” Wendell Barry

In Sustain…able I shared some of our less successful ventures with you, but this post is about victories, such as the day we began our harvest.

I cringed at the sight of Iowa’s decimated crops when I was there in July. Though I know the fields are rife with poison and genetic mutants I can’t help but root for the plants. I’m dazzled by the utter vitality the rises from the plains like heat waves off hot asphalt. But I am thrilled to report we have had an awesome season.
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Man. Horse. Dog. Forage.

For me, there is no better day that one spent on horseback, trail riding with Felipe, our dogs bounding ahead in search of iguanas and rabbits. Add food to the mix and you have Abby’s perfect day (a glass a wine and it’s my nirvana). This weekend we trekked up the mountain for bonetesBonetes are wild papayas, and are my second favorite foraged fruit, they taste like apricot custard. They are messy fun to eat because the flesh is really mushy and sticky. They are loaded with seeds, and I find the best way to eat one is to scoop up a blob with your fingers, as if you were eating poi, suck the flesh from the seeds, and spit the debris. We then make our way to the watering hole to destickify ourselves, before the flies swarm us.

Felipe, Tasha and Jake.

We have also been eating Juan temprano this month, a succulent similar to purslane. It has very little flavor, but is prolific and grows right outside my door. It is dark green, so I have decided it must be loaded with nutrients, and throw it in everything: eggs, salsa, salads and stir-fries. Continue reading

Forage Abril y Mayo

Everything is just a little tougher in rural Mexico; the meat is chewy but tasty, the pit is usually bigger than the flesh, and we eat field corn just like the livestock. This is not a place for those who care much for comfort. The area’s wild food is an interesting metaphor for what our life is like.

You must work hard to find and harvest your reward.

There will likely be more cascara (peel) than sustenance.

There is a lot of competition for your prize, but when you find what you’re looking for it will be unique, beautiful, challenging, colorful and nourishing.

April and May are the hottest months of the year and oddly, though we have not had any significant rain since October there are many lovely offerings from the forest during this time.

Parota seed pods are beautiful objects. They are harvested young for parboiling, and the mature pods are toasted in ashen coals. I prefer them from the coals, they taste like corn nuts.

parota

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