Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tasting the land

Suuring - a tablespoon of sour

Read all about the edible potential of a Cape spring in the piece I wrote for Culinary Backstreets: Suuring and Sow Thistles.

Nettle tart

Our friends Johan and Peter kindly let me forage for as many stinging nettles as I liked, behind their house in Koringberg. Back in Cape Town some of them became this tart, above (very much based on the lambsquarter tart in my book).


And I tramped up and down the green byways of Constantia, once with Tipsy (pictured in the Culinary Backstreets article) collecting three cornered leeks, suuring and sow thistles.

Sow thistles, suuring and three-cornered leeks

She now knows where the biggest stash of morogo is in the southern suburbs. 

Sow thistles

The Frenchman knows by now that where I go, there goes my appetite for plants and new flavors, and he was remarkably patient on our trip through Namaqualand, munching on unusual vegetables, like veldkool, below, and strange herbs.

Trachyandra falcata - only unopened buds are eaten

On our trip to the drier places I found bitter buchu, a species of Diosma, and was blown away by its intense fragrance, preserved right through cooking.

Veldkool, Hantam lamb, Cape lemons and bitter buchu

This is the true flavor of a country, and the bredie I made with the wonderful lamb from the farm Brandkop was excellent, eaten in a room lit only by oil lamps, with the enormous landscape knocking on the room's French doors in the darkness outside.



  1. Hi Marie!

    Suuring is a plant I actually grew up snacking on in Southern California (I loved sour stuff as a kid — still do). I recently found it growing roadside in Northern CA too, in the Oakland hills. I didn't know anything about it (except that it was delicious) until I saw this post. A seed must have hitchhiked on an American-bound traveler many years ago!

    Thanks, as always, for sharing your knowledge. New blog posts from you are always a treat.

    1. Thank you, Simone! Yes, unfortunately suuring (Oxalis pes-caprae, native to South Africa) has become seriously invasive in CA. Perhaps it arrived as a garden plant - who knows, but it loves the similar conditions and has thrived. MY CA foraging friends eat it, too.

  2. Well, I thought the suuring looked a bit like the oxalis that grows so freely here - in Albany just one town away from Oakland, and was so surprised to read Simone's note and your reply. It is oxalis though I never thought it was edible. But we have so much here, and oxalis season is approaching, that perhaps I should learn how to prepare it.

    Am enjoying your posts and look forward to the garden news and updates.

    1. Hi Nancy - Thank you.

      For the oxalis the stems are best. Chop them up or add them whole to any cooked dish that needs some souring (whenever lemon juice, or tamarind are called for, for instance). You can eat them raw, too, of course.


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