Last year, I got very excited about foraging. I had noticed a post on the facebook page for my neighbourhood, asking for help pulling out garlic mustard in our woods. Since I didn’t know what it was or what it looked like, I googled it. One thing led to another, as it often does with google searches and me: upon discovering that garlic mustard is a garlic flavoured member of the enormously nutritious brassica family, originally brought over by Europeans to, you know, eat, but now destroying native woodlands here because nobody is eating the freakin’ things, I thought it would be fun to find out what else is sitting in plain weedy view, deliciously and nutritiously awaiting consumption.
I discovered Tama Matsuoka Wong, and was soon making salads composed of purslane and lamb’s quarters. And here is an interesting fact about lamb’s quarters: while it is now considered to be only a weed, and a highly invasive one at that, it was actually cultivated by our early ancestors, and is closely related to quinoa. Next time you are pulling them out of your garden, stop and chomp on a few – I mean, if they haven’t been coated in alarming pesticides, that is. That is some seriously paleo eating. Taste-wise, lamb’s quarters are similar to spinach, and can be used interchangeably.
As for the garlic mustard, I will try it again this year. I will admit my first attempt at using it as food tasted… virtuous. And by virtuous, I mean “like the bottom of my lawn mower”. I will try it again this year – perhaps a goat cheese quiche, or smooshed up in pasta dough. Or in a kim chi. I am determined to eat my way through this invasive species.
I will post any future cooking successes I have with garlic mustard. In the meantime, however, I encourage everyone to keep these buggers in check. If you see one, pull it out! Even if you don’t eat it! They crowd out native species of plants, destroying natural habitats for flora and fauna alike.