Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer unofficial

Memorial Day came in with a cold dip in Walden Pond. I still have to see the movie Yes Man because I feel that all the time, plus I love Jim Carey. Kate and Brian jumped in so I had to follow. It was a good way to usher in summer.

Last night we ushered in movie night (to replace art night..maybe not the best idea regarding creativity, but certainly more relaxing). 400 Blows, a French movie about a kid who has shitty parents so he gets in trouble a lot at school, and finally just leaves altogether. He gets caught stealing and gets sent off to Observation Camp to be watched by shrinks and juvenile officers. The movie ends with his escape, a long run to the ocean, which he's never seen before. I thought it was a great flick, and the tofurkey sandwich which Jordan made for me could have qualified as art, so art night didn't die quiet yet.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Who has time to blog with all this foraging to be had?

Last weekend I joined Brian for a 4-borough bike tour of NYC. Towards the end of our loop, back in Inwood, we re-visited the black locust trees I pointed out to Paul and crew last fall, and sure enough, they were in the perfect stage for eating the flowers. This was the first time I ate them, and I completely understand why Sam Thayer devoted a whole chapter in his book to them, they are great. I brought a bunch home and showed them to Romanian Corina, who flipped out, like usual "WE HAVE THOSE IN ROMANIA!!". She says this about every plant I point out to her...dandelions, grass,... Well, in this case her Romanian upbringing came threw big, she taught me how they make fritters with them and we did a vegan version that was excellent. Next time I'll try with whole wheat flour I think, for more substance.
And next time might be soon, because the next day after we ate them, and after I complained to her that beantown doesn't have enough of them, I came across a boatload of them near Ringe Ave in Cambridge. I was up there because she dragged me to an "opera" which turned out to be a mess in several ways. First, it was the CSO, not exactly the most in tune orchestra I've ever heard. Second, it was in the vineyard church, one of those new touchy feely christian congregations that make my skin crawl. but, I found black locust so totally worth it.

Came across a great book at Rodney's in central. despite their total lack of decent fiction, they do pretty well stocking nature books. Sure, there are occasionally titles like "Weed Survey of Michigan, 1968", but there are lots of gems too. Bought Ghosts of Evolution, a book about fruits and seed pods that no longer have natural dispersal agents (animals who eat them and crap out the seeds far from the tree). Like, avocados, mangoes, papayas, honey locusts (everywhere in cambridge - a tree adored by urban arborists for its deep roots that don't crack the sidewalk, and its ability to grow in all sorts of soil qualities). Anyhow, where are those dispersal agents? They are extinct! 13,000 years or so they vanished, but the plants have hung on and now we cultivate them. Kentucky Coffee Tree is on the list, and so I gathered a bag of last years seed pods and will roast them soon to try the coffee substitute enjoyed by colonists in Kentucky. Since there are no dispersal agents for this tree left, sure enough, under on of those trees, or the honey locust, you find an abundance of fallen pods. So this is great, we're not stealing from the squirrels!

Lots of pokeweed over the last couple weeks, some in suspect places, see photo, but I'm still kicking, so all good.
It's too bad you have to cook it to death before eating it since it's so juicy and pretty when you pick it.

A trip out to upstate NY a few weeks ago to visit and forage with my friend Sarah from the yearly Rhode Island Rhythm and Roots music festival proved extremely fruitful. My personal highlight was finding the roadsides abounding with wild parsnips. This was the classic exciting 'first find': I'd seen the pictures of the notable leaf pattern so many times in books I recognized it right away, and it was really yummy (it's the same as cultivated parsnip). Apparently it's classified as an invasive, which just means it's strong and successful, and so, to celebrate its strength, I named my newest computer at work after it - pastinaca. Some other items of note on that foraging trip where trout lily, wild mint, nettles, and some yellow violets. Here's the feast.

Lady's thumb is out now and it's a good potherb. Despite this blog entry, I think there's a slight lull in great edibles right about now, so I go after things like lady's thumb and lamb's quarters. Here's lady's thumb, easy to spot to the the centered dark splotch on each leaf.

Lastly, another word on knotweed: that stuff will grow anywhere. Saw it in a stream the other day, a lone, skinny one. Cut to ten years from now and the stream has a knotweed damn. At least any beavers left won't have to work so hard.

OK, one more last thing. As I type these final sentences, my mouth is full of watercress from J.P. Watercress is a sneaky little one, but somehow the seeds adrift always find the places that make you say, "yep, that's just where watercress ought to be."

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Tab (and Bigfoot)

Last night was an eventful one at the Cantab. Before making it to the tab, our thursday night haunt with the Chicken Slacks, we had a great opening reception at the gallery for Miriam's show. Then some drinks at the Middle East and some vegan grub, then off to the tab. I think I worried some of my friends who didn't see how the whole following went down, but here it is in brief.

I walk outside for the set break and there's a tall black (only important because he kept bringing up race and how I "don't know anything", etc) homeless (also important for the same reason), self-professed alcoholic 59 year old guy. Anyhow, he's singing really well, and tapping some rhythms on his legs, and it sounds so good and I've had a couple of drinks so I sit down and join him in song. He feeds me the bass line which I sing, and I think we're sounding pretty good. Then it went down hill right after that song. He tore into me, getting in my face. Which was fine, because I knew he wasn't going to do anything bad and it was obvious he was sort of all over the place, canned lines, not listening to me, so I took it for a while, then decided that I thought he wanted some action. So I started barking back a little at him...this is when my friends were worried something was actually going down, which of course it wasn't. Anyhow, we calmed down after a bit, and then for about 30 minutes, I got some seriously nutty tales. He was obviously well-educated somewhere along the long line of life, dropping interesting words and phrases. He told me he used to be an industrial psychologist, ok fair enough, his friend had been a clinical psychologist. But then there was a refrigerator in a field somewhere (he could not disclose the location, there was some military tie in, but it sounded like southern U.S.) locked up, and he was hiding behind it to not get shot. Enter Saskwatch - aka BigFoot, although Al also refered to him as Billy. Billy saved him, and was huge, and had a fat girfriend, but with a very cute face, but Al hasn't seen him since it all happened. After that story, Al asked me, "Are you an abductee." He claimed to have been abducted by aliens. It went on like that for a while.

We ended on a good note, both fed up with the world but agreeing on that at least, and we stood up and I moseyed back into the tab. And I guess to clear my own conscious, I am not posting this in a way of saying "hey look at all the fucked up crazy people out there, check this one out...". I like talking to people, and if I can talk to someone who got the short end of the stick, all the better. I generally try to listen and do my best to commiserate on the sadness of how the world stamps some people down so hard. It would be great to know his story, and all the other stories. Afterward, his friend saddled up to me and told me I had lots of patience.

Then, we got freindly with Sam, who we only ever see serving us falafel late night at Moody's, but he was out and about last night. Nice guy. Apparently "suspended" from the job until Monday -- issues with the boss. We still got ourselves a great couple of falafels, which we really didn't need given that we all consumed tons of homemade hummous with japanese knotweed and dock, and another with all sorts of wild greens, including linden leaves which are out in full force right now. We alsohad the treat of a Mike "Not Art" appearance, who tagged brian's T-shirt and my gray button down. The Not Art movement is going strong thanks to it's one foot soldier, Mike.

Monday, May 4, 2009

All in one week

My how things change during one good week of Spring in Boston. I come back from a great trip to the Vineyard to find all the leaves of the maples, oaks, and lindens out, and the last-week dormant honey locust leaves popping out too. So, on my ride in today I gathered my lunch salad: linden leaves, cleavers, dandelion greens, plantain, and curly dock. And bought some annie's asian sesame dressing to make it all taste yummy.