Saturday, March 30, 2013

A foraging picnic

The woods of Inwood had barely woken up yet, when Clare, Pritha and I walked into them yesterday on a quest for field garlic. The spicebush had not broken bud.

We did find snowdrops - not native at all, but pretty.

And moss on the enormous rocks. There were birds: a woodpecker, its high primitive percussion somewhere in the bare trees, cardinals, titmice, and a pair of beautiful blue and white nut hatches. 

After finding some likely foraging grounds we settled in the middle of them, high on a rock, looking out over the leaf littered woods and occasional dog walker.

I broke out the pâté, cucumber sandwiches and gins and tonics. My fellow picnickers were impressed by the ice and lemon slices. 

I was impressed by their willingness to dive in and experience a new taste without any finickiness. To the left of Clare, below - that vertical twig? Poison ivy...

...And by Clare's freshly baked cheese scones and wonderful lemon curd - both made that very morning.

We were camping right on top of garlic mustard, an edible invasive that has taken over these woods, crowding out just about every other wildflower.

To help out, we ate it on the spot. Thanks to Pritha for the styling.  She works for a think tank and she sat and thought very fast and came up with some wonderful wild food ideas.

Apart from thinking, she also contributed some excellent quiches and fruit tarts from a bakery in Fort Greene.

After lunch we got down to business, hauling fat field garlic from the ground. The best bulbs are a little larger than thumbnail-size.

The walk back to the subway took us past the Henry Hudson Bridge. The Bronx is on the other side...

I'll return in a few weeks. Maybe a month. I love to see these trees in young leaf.

And the field garlic will still be there.

And the riders on the A train will be as engulfed by field garlic fumes as they were yesterday. Sorry about that...


  1. Fresh garlic versus sweaty old armpits? No contest!

  2. Yah know..... I think we have a bunch of that growing in our garden. When it flowers, it has white, flat heads, right? And yes, I know, I know, some of us shouldn't be allowed to have gardens until we are better informed....

  3. I love reading about your adventures- I feel like I am hanging out with you as well:)

  4. where do you find field garlic? (I a field) on the edge of the woods, in a sunny meadow?

  5. What fun - and what a feast! I have been collecting wild garlic, ramsons, this weekend, which is a little different to the field garlic you've pictured. In the US ramsons are also called ramp, no? Lovely to see the first of the shoots coming up.

  6. I know that ramps, which grow near here in Tennessee, are different than the field garlic pictured. However, the field garlic looks like what we call spring onions. Are they the same?

    1. I don't know, Martha. They are onions (Allium genus) and they are up in, perhaps. Common names vary widely from region to region...


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