When people think of foraging, generally they imagine baskets of berries and fungi being filled during long afternoons in the woods or hedgerows.
Perhaps an hour or two spent making jam, chutney or a nice mushroom risotto with the day’s finds when they get home.
I do a fair bit – OK, a lot – of this, but at least half my foraging time – and certainly more than half my pleasure – comes from grazing. We employ most of our senses when out and about. Smelling flowers, listening to birdsong, looking at the view, feeling the earth beneath our feet.
So why not taste?
For me, taste is the ultimate intimacy with our landscape – a level of engagement far beyond passive enjoyment.
So a walk through my local swamp in summer tastes hot and spicy, as I nibble on four varieties of cardamine (cress-like members of the mustard family, with a spectrum of flavours from piquant rocket to full-on wasabi/horseradish) and water pepper (a hot chilli flavoured leaf). Nature is balanced in many ways, so it’s a nice relief, yet no surprise, to find refreshing pockets of apple and water mint or the soothing, cucumber-meets-palm-heart coolness of reedmace hearts.