Monday, 17 March 2014

By the light of the silvery moon

There's something about the French that always appeals to me. And it has nothing to do with love! Except that I have always loved this story told to me by my friend about her mother-in-law. (Well not technically a mother-in-law as my friend is not married to her 'frenchman'...) But her stories of Maman gathering wild herbs by the light of the silvery moon have always stayed with me. I can't imagine that happening here but then living in such an urban environment just gathering parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (isn't that a song?) from the garden is as far as I go. And I suspect that is about as far as most Aussies go. But not in France. 
In the village of Vence - I bet this person goes herb hunting!
One of my favourite blogs that I follow is written by an American who has lived in France for 25+ years with her Frenchman (husband this time...). Her post was entitled "Some smoke weed, others eat it" Well that got me interested! After all there are so many cooks now putting all sorts of weird and wonderful weeds and water plants into our modern cuisines. 

So here's Corey's post in her blog Tongue in Cheek (join up she's a serious brocanter)

2011 Wasn't that yesterday? I am beginning to think that when I close my eyes a whole century goes by, and then I wake up to today. Odd.

Anyway in 2011 I wrote a post about Annie and her weed salad. I am reposting it here now.

Yesterday on my walk I noticed those weeds underfoot... I thought of Annie, how she loved to walk, did so every day until recently. I thought about how she collected her "weeds" for her salad and to cook them as well. I thought about how the weeds of spring are in full force and Annie is sitting in her home not able to pick them.

So today I took a plastic bag with me to collect weeds....

But first her is Annie's Weed Salad Story (how many of you remember it?)

Weed Salad
My friend Annie makes weed salad.
She gathers the weeds in a field.
She eats them.
And tells me, "..they are good for you, high in vitamins."
Weeds that I walk on without given them a thought.
Bitter weeds.

Pissanli, fennel, salade de
Weeds with names such as:
Salade de Chasseur, or Hunter's Greens in English.
Fenouil, or Fennel's first shots. Not to be confused with older, later in the season's more substantial growth.
Pissanli (I won't tell you what that sounds like in French... oh dang I have to tell you... It sounds like Peeing in the Bed!) better known as: Dandelion! Bitter is what it is!
And the fourth cutie weed... Much to my shame, I forgot its name.

Annie's Weed Salad
I went over to Annie's yesterday to cut her hair.
Entering her kitchen there was an overwhelming garlicky aroma.
Annie told me she had made her Weed Salad. I tasted her weeds before without seasoning, and it was not my favorite. Annie reassured me, "...I know you don't like my wild salad...."
"You mean weed salad?""
"Yes, but you should taste it with my vinaigrette."
"Is garlic the main ingredient?"
She laughed, "Can you smell it?"
Annie collects the weeds, then trims, washes and seasons them:
Olive oil, salt, apple vinegar and a fist full of crushed garlic.
I love garlic. I have heard the the reason escargot tastes good is because of the butter and garlic. Weed salad falls in the same catagory. The garlic won me over.
Annie was happy that I am now a fan of her weed salad. I'll never walk on a weed again without my tastebuds watering.... well, that is if garlic dressing is close behind.

And here we go with her follow-up blog entitled The Edible Weed
 Edible Weed weeds
 I brought in the over stuffed pink plastic bag of weeds that I had pulled up from my walk. Feeling like Santa Claus I beamed as I plunked it down on Annie's lap.

She giggled believing that the overstuffed pink plastic bag of weeds were 100 percent edible. I had to remind her that this was my first solo attempt pulling edible weeds. She swooshed her hand, as if to say nonsense to my doubt.

We started sorted through the pink plastic bag. I pulled up the weeds with the roots, later I discovered this makes for more work. A fourth of the sack confirmed my doubt, we threw them away. The others I cut off the roots, sorted through the sticks, grass, and a few dried leaves. Then I washed and rewashed the edible weeds.

edible weeds
 Annie with her heaping edible weeds. It was if I offered her a little baby Jesus in velvet shorts.
(When in France when something you eat is delicious, French Husband says,  "C'est le petit Jésus en culottes de velours - Like baby Jesus in velvet shorts." Honest to God, that is what he says... I guess it could be better translated as: "Oh My God, this is good!" Obviously, we didn't have the same Catholic upbringing. Jesus never wore velvet shorts in my church.)
wild edible weeds
Pissanli or dandelion, and *osez which means "dare" in French, which I find funny, "Do you dare eat this?" I do not know what osez is in English. I also picked fennel. These three edible weeds I am sure of... the other ones that are edible I am not so good as finding... yet.
*Correction: Nancy Ravisé-Noel said:
"The osez you were lucky enough to find is actually spelled oseille and translates "sorrel" in English." Thank you.
Edible Weed
Annie instructed me to put three fourths of the edible weeds into some boiling water. Edible weeds boil like spinach, they reduce tremendously in size. I put them in a pan of boiling water and turned them gentle time and time again. The weeds cooked about ten minutes. Then I put them in a drainer for over thirty minutes. 
Edible Weed
 The lighter leaf is osez. The brown water (the edible weeds were clean) was dumped into the sink. edible weeds
 The rest Annie had me chop finely, adding garlic, parsley, olive oil and vinegar.
Linda wrote in yesterday's comment section: "I'm convinced that you could eat a rubber tire if you put enough garlic and butter ..."
Isn't that true?
And Mardog asked in the yesterday's comment section, "How much does this weed cost?" 
Now are you going to pick some weeds for dinner?

Now to give you a little background - Annie is her aging neighbour and Corey speaks so lovingly about her. Wise women these oldies are - and gathering herbs particularly by the light of the silvery moon just has to be the real way to do it.So just be careful where you walk - you may be walking on your dinner! So happy gathering (day or night)  - oh and don't forget the garlic! Let me know how you go!
The wives of the boule players are all at home cooking their weeds!

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