I was quite the little forager when I was a kid. I remembered the shape of any plant that I heard was edible and I looked for it everywhere. Unfortunately, I never knew the “real” names of most of my favorite delicacies. Recently, I decided to try and find a few of them.
First, there were my very favorites, “sweet-tarts”, as my friends and I called them. They were the best, because you could find them almost any time there wasn’t snow on the ground. They were darling little shamrock-like plants, with heart-shaped leaves and tiny yellow blossoms. The flavor was delicately lemony then softly sweet. They were most emphatically NOT clovers. I made the mistake of trying to eat clover leaves only once. They tasted like grass. Bitter, nasty, green grass. I discovered that their official name is Yellow Mount Sorrel and you can even cook with them!
I must say a word in defense of clovers. Though their leaves were truly horrid, their flowers were heavenly! I loved pulling out the pink-purple flower bits and nibbling the white inside ends off, which were dewy with nectar. The deeper the color on the flower, the better it tasted!
I also tried digging up Queen Anne’s Lace and eating the roots. In my experience, they were almost always tough as an old shoe and only slightly carroty, tasting more like dirt than anything else. But.. y’know. If you’re a kid, just eating something you picked yourself is enough to add flavor.
Then, there were the berries. Plump and juicy, bitter or sweet, but always a most special late summer treat.
There were the furry “rose-raspberries” or “carpet-berries” that burst in your mouth like a dying caterpillar and had a slightly fermented flavor… aka Thimbleberries, or so says our great guru, the World Wide Web.
Then, of course, there were choke cherries. People told stories about them being poisonous-which no kid I knew believed. Although, the wood of the tree even smelled evil! If you broke off a branch, the air would fill with a slight sour odor, closely resembling vomit. The ripe black berries tasted quite good, especially once you acquired a taste for them. The red ones, however, could make you quite violently ill. I witnessed that firsthand, around the time of my tenth birthday. Some of my friends and I had been daring each other to eat the bright red fruit, because it literally numbs your tongue momentarily on contact. Let’s just say… they ate a few too many and their mothers all called asking what I had done to them. I suppose that it probably didn’t help matters in the suspicion department that I was the only one who wasn’t sick; I guess I didn’t eat enough to hurt me.
Please note: I do not own any of the images in the above post. They are curtesy of a Google Image search and the wonderful photographers who took these shots.