Welcome to the wonderful world of weedy plants!
Weeds are superevolutionary products of human civilizations and activities - without humans there would be no weeds, just wild plants.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Who stole my weeds?

A hilarious news story has been making the rounds recently, about a property owner in Portland, Oregon, who is upset that someone is trespassing and picking the weeds on this property. The story broke on  KATU, a local news station and there are some hilarious comments below it, and then was picked up by Fox News).  The owner is blaming the chefs of neighboring restaurants, and say that not only do they pick the weeds, they leave recipes after them.

To me, this sounds like a April 1 joke (except it wasn't published on the first of April).  First, if you have weeds, wouldn't you be happy to get rid of them?  Second, I doubt chefs would pick weeds in urban lawns that most likely have been sprinkled with pesticides, cat urine, and exhaust fumes plus other unmentionable things.  Third, chefs leaving recipes? This story smells funny all the way from Oregon.  It is possible it is true of course, but that remains to be seen.

search for Urban Edibles in Molenbeek
Urban foraging for edible plants in Belgium. Would you eat the plants from this spot?
Creative Commons photo by foam on Flickr.
However, the idea that chefs would harvest weeds for serving at upscale restaurants are likely and part of a new trend of eating a larger variety of greens, being 'on the edge' of novelty, and of course, being extremely locavorish.  This was already described in the great book Foraged Flavor by Wong and Leroux, and has its roots not only in traditional Italian cuisine with its wild spring greens but also in many other ethnic cuisines.

I grew up picking wild stinging nettles in early spring, when the shoots were small (but still stung).  You had to were gloves, and our patch was so small that only only got enough for one meal per year (or rather, I think we gave up after that).  You cooked the soup down like spinach soup and all the stinginess was gone after boiling, add some cream or milk, and then served with a hard-boiled egg cut in half that floats like two boats in the green sea.  Yummy, and here is a recipe.  The stinging nettles are certainly weeds. 

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