Urban Foragers

posted on: Monday, 21 April 2014

A plum in the hand is worth...


A bramble of plums

Super long wild asparagus in Nyanda

Tom getting his paws on some paw paw in Salisbury

If you can't name it, don't eat it... What are these?

Foraging ended disastrously for Christopher McCandless, the subject of the book and movie Into The Wild. Even though he studied edible plants, it was through eating the (poisonous) seeds from a wild potato that led to his death after four months of subsisting on wild food in the Denali National Park in Alaska. Conversely, foraging proved to be the making of chef Rene Redzepi of NOMA in Copenhagen. His passion for scouring seashores and forests for seasonal inspiration - wood sorrel, fungi, and famously, live ants - have led to two Michelin stars and world renown. So when my brother Tom offered to take me on a foraging bike ride around Brisbane to see what was available, I was both cautious and keen.

Having limited my foraging to stuffing my mouth with mulberries from my neighbours' trees, I was quite amazed by what is readily available out there once you start paying attention. We came across a paw paw tree filled with fruit near a bike track in Salisbury. Then there was one metre high wild asparagus in a deserted community garden in Nyanda, looking super green and healthy after recent rain.  Mountains of mushrooms were peeping out of the side of a log in Toohey Forest. And in a suburban street in Coorparoo: fat, ruby red pomegranate hanging low off a tree. There was one disappointment though: a tree filled with a fruit that I could not name. And as my bro reminded me of the the number one rule of foraging - if you can't name it, you can't eat it - it had to remain un-foraged by us. If anyone can ID the fruit above, I'll share the haul!

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