Experiment · Foodgasms · Foraging

charles river foraged dinner

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Down by the river, down by the banks of the River Charles – that’s where you’ll find me, picking invasive species for dinner.

This glorious spring evening was perfect for a stroll along one of the Boston area’s more successful conservation projects. Really, apparently the river water is safe for swimming these days, though I am not putting it to the test.

I have been foraging in the area for a couple years, putting the soil quality to the test. Would I eat the things I find while pregnant? Nope. But as for my own liver, it has probably had worse than what the Charles can dish out.

I’m a bit more hesitant about foraging these days than I was when I was a kid, because so many native plants have been decimated by folks filling their crispers  (or selling to Whole Foods in bulk – Whole Foods, destroying the ramp and fiddlehead populations since 2010 so you can feel connected to the earth!).

But invasive species I am happy to murder. If only everybody ate THEM, the world would be a better place. Given the season, Japanese knotweed and wild garlic mustard were on my hit list/menu.

Here they are, growing together for convenience:

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They are delicious, and evil. They are taking over everything. See here:

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So many pretty white flowers, choking out all other life. Same with the knotweed. At any rate, I did my duty, filled a small bag, and went home to cook.

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Careful soaking and trimming, followed by boiling all scraps so that the knotweed doesn’t grow from clippings through a garbage bag (it is unstoppable), led to a nice pile of shoots and leaves. I saved a lot of the garlic mustard for a Sunday project, but the rest of it along with the knotweed went into a pan with shrimp, snow peas, spinach, shallots, and ginger. Some brown rice udon and a sauce of miso, rice vinegar, fish sauce, red pepper, and soy sauce perfected the dish.

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Now to convince Whole Foods that there is a market for invasives…

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