A Walk on the (Edible) Wild Side
I shall never walk across scrub land or a field again in the same way, careless of where I put my big feet. Do you know how much free food there is to eat out there, along pathways and roadsides, on scrub land, alongside torrents and waste ground areas? Uta Maria Gritschke does, she is an expert in wild edibles.
Uta started on this journey 12 or so years ago by friends who pick and eat wild plants as part of daily life. She realised that Majorca has an abundance of unrecognised edible plants growing wild all around us and in our gardens. We met at Consell train station and as we walked and talked, Uta showed me so many edible plants just growing by the side of the road. She did say that we should be mindful of eating from the roadside strips however because of the weed control pesticides that are used, and of course people walking their dogs.
We came upon one area behind a stone house which to me looked just like waste land with patches of rubble discarded from building works by the house owners. For Uta this was a whole patch of food and she proceeded to point out and show me such an array of foods nearly all of which can be eaten raw.
Uta shows great tenderness and care to the plants and it’s hard not to follow her lead as I avoid standing on the new sprouting greens and gently turn a flower head to look at it more closely. I sing to my vegetables so I was not at all surprised to hear Uta saying hello to tiny yellow flowers and clearing debris off wild chicory that we found .
So what did we find?
Let’s start with the last thing we found and which I have happily heaved and dug out of my garden in the past believing it to be nothing more than a weed.... Uta showed me Amaranth! This is a plant which was brought to the island and planted as food many years ago but which grew out of favour for the likes of Spinach and chard, perhaps they were easier to cultivate or more appealing to look at, who knows but its a shame when Amaranth is so plentiful not to pick it and eat it. Uta tells me it can be used in the same way as spinach and all parts of the plant are edible.
We found wild Chard and a plant known as sour grass. I would have bet it was clover as it looks similar except thats its flowers are a very pretty yellow. Uta was right, when tasted it was similar to vinegar and quite tasty, as she says, a lovely snack. It would be wise to pay caution to eating too much of this as the sourness comes from Oxylic acid which if over indulged can be bad for the kidneys. We also tried wild rocket and wild mustard flower which was quite hot.
Another suprise for me were the wild carrots which grow on the lane I live on and also wild beets. We even found dessert in the form of a european honeyberry tree which I am delighted to say I also have in my garden.
Uta offers botanical walks in the countryside as a group or a bespoke package, in Spanish, Catalan, English or German. I was lucky that I had her undivided attention for the morning we met in Consell. We didn’t walk to far and we didn’t need to as there was plenty to see in the vicitinity.
The walk is not strenuous and would be a great thing to do for many people. I certainly enjoyed the experience. When we finished our walk Uta sent an email with pictures of all the wild plants that we looked at so that I may compare and recognise some myself next time. She does this so that a group of people don't all have to wait for each other taking photo's and can just enjoy the experience. She tells me that there are a few plants which are extremely toxic, so it would be a good idea to make sure that you are 100 percent sure first. Uta can be contacted at email@example.com / www.mywildgreens.com
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