Hunter-gatherer fantasies


Foraged foods

RESURGENCE at the heart of earth, art and spirit

Issue 256 • September/October 2009
Exploring Consciousness


Issue 259 • March/April 2010 • Seeds of Change: The Future of Food

Experiment with nature’s rich harvest.




Autumn riches

Foraged foods and garden delights together combine to create an unusual treat.

MY BETTER COOKING happens when my pockets are full of ingredients from the woods, mountains and from my vegetable plot. You perhaps ought to know that I have a romantic obsession with the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras, so it may be helpful to imagine, as I do, when trying out one of my seasonal suggestions, that you are living a few thousand years ago when communities gathered ingredients together, and spent time preparing it. Doing so  I notice that time slows down so much I can feel it passing by. It is at these savory times that I am at my happiest, so it is reasonable to say that this is when my better cooking happens.

For the coming autumn I would like to share with you “Acorn Bread” and “Salade de Fausses Chenilles”, False catterpillar salad.Just as my garden abandons itself to autumn, and the oak trees drop their acorns, the nasturtiums have a last fling and flood my vegetable plot with a carpet of orange flowers. What to do with this overflow? “Salade de Fausses Chenilles”. accompanied with grounded by the acorn bread.

Salade de Fausses Chenilles
10 leeks
20 fresh nasturtium seeds with their tails (stalks)
Three or five nasturtium flowers
A scattering of freshly ground green tea
20 raspberries
3 tbsp hazelnut oil
Rock salt

Steam the leeks until tender, drain them well and put them on a plate with a scattering of the ground green tea on the top – not too much to make the leeks bitter. Steam the nasturtium seeds looking like catterpillars with their stalks still attached, this takes no more than a minute – (the steaming makes them greener). Immediately rinse them under cold water, pat them dry and arrange them over the leeks with a sprinkle of salt and hazelnut oil. Strategically place the raspberries over the salad and decorate it with the nasturtium flowers. Serve with the acorn bread.

Acorn bread
Your usual bread ingredients

Fill your pockets with ripe acorns from the oak wood’s floor; you may have to hunt around to find a good crop as sometimes they can be dry or full of weevils. Roast the acorns under the grill until the cases split open. Place the acorns (without the cases) in a large pan of water and bring to the boil, (the water will blacken as the acorns release their tannin). Change the water several times and when the water begins to clear and acorns soften, stop the boiling and drain. The acorns will be floury and so are ready to be added to your favorite bread recipe. Remove the weight of the acorn flour from your usual flour, nead together and bake as usual.

Photograph Aline Perier

Hedgerow spring menu

In Autumn Riches, my first piece for Resurgence, I forced myself to write the quantities when I never normally work with them. I wanted my recipes to conform and ever since I have felt very uncomfortable. The pressure put upon you to stay out hunting in the hedgerows until you have found a said amount of “carrots” would be terrible. You might be out for weeks ! I think it is far better to say – follow my recipes with what you have. Green fish soup can be partially carroty or over oniony.
There is another flaw in the Hedgerow spring menu. I do not like digging up roots and bulbs growing in the wild so I propagated a few varieties of archaic vegetables in my own garden. These I cook with without upsetting my conscience. They are often woody or stringy and have to be pulverized before cooking.
It goes without saying that I would not take from the hedges any birds eggs or honey as our ancestors would have done.

Green fish soup
For the carrot soup:
Chive bulbs

Pulverize the carrots. Simmer gently in water until soft. Blend the carrots with the chive bulbs. Season the soup to your taste. Put aside and keep warm.
As an alternative to carrots you can use parsnips, burdock roots, spinach or nettle leaves.

For the fish:
Mange-tout beans*

Delicately cut out fish from the green beans. Steam the beans for a minute or two whilst reheating the soup. When the beans are cooked pour the soup into bowls. Carefully arrange the green fish on top of the soup and serve.
*Mange-tout beans do not normally grow in hedgerows.

Young hawthorn fingers
Young hawthorn leaves, hazelnuts (from last autumn)
Chives, mint, wild garlic leaves, sweet violets
Fresh goats cheese

Grind the nuts, chop the herbs and leaves. Mix together. Shape the soft fresh cheese into small balls. Roll them over in the leafy mixture until they resemble ten fat green fingers. Arrange the fingers on a plate and serve with barley bread.


Berry Omelette

Gently melt the butter in a small frying pan. Pour in the beaten eggs. Scatter the berries over the eggs. Trickle over the honey. Gently heat through. As the omelette curls around the edges and a wonderful smell of honey fills the kitchen turn the omelette gently out on to a plate. Serve with a little fresh cream over the top.

Alternatives: blackberries, elderberries, myrtles or dewberries

(Extracts from A Mesolithic Garden and other stories)