Showing posts with label foraging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label foraging. Show all posts

September 27, 2018

Lambsquarters Is the New Kale

Some tiny lambsquarters seeds and a book that has nothing
about lambsquarters in it.
M. and I ate a lot of lambsquarter (lambsquarters? lamb's-quarter(s)? anyway, Chenopodium album) this summer, as I wrote in early July: "Not-Gardening in a Time of Drought."

They, wild amaranth, and our nettle patch provided most of our early-summer greens — on their own, mixed into pasta, or baked with cheese in Greek pie (spanakopita).

We did not know how trendy we are! Lambsquarters was (were?) recently featured in a Los Angeles Times lifestyle blog: " Lambsquarters: Weed harvested as wild food."
Volunteer lambsquarters.
Mia Wasilevich, a wild foods chef, and her partner, Pascal Baudar, lead classes in foraging in the environs of L.A. When they have collected a wild harvest, Wasilevich transforms the weed into something more civilized -- pesto or spring rolls with a brilliant green dollop of lambsquarters glistening under the rice paper.

“It’s a wild food and I prefer to cook it down, even for a short time,” she says. “I do a pureed green velvet soup with it that’s lovely. It can go in any number of sauces. I just did a lambsquarters benedict, like a florentine, with quails eggs. It makes a beautiful sauce.”
I guess that makes M. a "wild foods chef" too, since she is also adept with mushrooms.

But there is more. Ethnobotanists are pursuing lambsquarter(s) as well.
"It's a bit like Jurassic Park," I told a greenhouse visitor while I tucked another inflorescence into a glassine paper bag. "People ate this like quinoa almost 4000 years ago. The variety grown here vanished hundreds of years ago, but with a bit of work we can bring it back". . . .
In the past, lambsquarters may have been prepared and eaten the same ways as quinoa and huauzontle. The archaeological data are clear that lambsquarters was an important crop in prehistoric eastern North America, but many details about the extinct crop are hard to pin down. Where did it come from? How was it grown? How was it eaten? What is known comes from seed cashes and storage pits where seeds passed the centuries until archaeologists uncovered them.

And from the sadly defunct Colorado foraging blog Wild Food Girl, recipe for "Lambs' Quarters Pesto with Sunflower Seeds."

More:
This is a weed of garden beds and landscaping. Like a dedicated pup, it follows us humans around, much as we have sought it out. In The Forager’s Harvest (2006), Sam Thayer explains that the goosefoot C. berlandieri has been used by native people here for thousands of years, prior to contact with European settlers, who brought their own strain of edible Chenopodium to North American soils, whether or not intentionally. There is archaeological evidence for Chenopodium seeds in North America dating back thousands of years, he explains, citing Smith (1992). “Depending on classification, these seeds may or may not represent C. album; but some of them certainly represent plants that would commonly be called “lamb’s quarters,” he writes.
In past years, we have always counted in the lambsquarters coming up on its own in various spots. Unlike the guy in LA, we don't have to keep them a secret — they are right next to the house.

What we have done this year is gather some seeds, just to make sure that they keep coming up. Who knows, maybe we will devote some garden space to lambsquarter(s) — our own little Neolithic Revolution. You can be a foodie and eat like the Old Ones at the same time!