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The Feast Outside

This past weekend I went on a foraging hike in Hahamonga Park with Urban Outdoor Skills.  Our small group was led by the knowledgable and fearless Pascal Baudar.  Pascal has been foraging since he was a boy in Belgium and does some incredible things with wild food.  I never ceased to be amazed when every 30 feet we walked Pascal would turn around and tell us the feast we had just traversed.  Suddenly, plants started to pop out and catch your eye: passion fruit clutching a willow, wild sugar on Eucalyptus Leaves, a Fig Tree obscured by bushes, and white sage hidden in the buckwheat.  These are a few of my favorites found off the beaten path:

Western Black Nightshade

Not to be confused with the very poisonous Belladonna of Europe, our Black Nightshade can be eaten ONLY when ripe.  The berries go from green (poisonous) to deep black and have the taste of a gooseberry and a tomato mixed.   The fruit are small and many hours of foraging are required to make a meal.  It was late in the season so there were even fewer to be found.  What little I gathered of the sweet savory indulgence was eaten like a wild caviar as we headed deeper into the hike.

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