Foraging for food is one of the most amazing things ever. You connect spiritually with your hunter-gatherer ancestors, you understand where your food comes from, and you eat locally and seasonally. Urban foraging, however, is disgusting. Especially if you live in a gritty city. Like, say, San Francisco. Okay, so not all parts are gritty, but you definitely don’t want to pick any fruits or vegetables growing at or below waist level, especially if you don’t like the flavor of pee (sorry, it had to be said).
But for you less hygienic types, here are a few things urban foraging is good for:
Nasturtiums: These pretty little orange and yellow flowers grow out of pavement cracks and in medians. They have a lovely peppery taste and are delicious in a salad. You could even impress your friends by throwing one in a cocktail. But wash them well. Very, very well. Nasturtiums tend to grow where dogs like to mark their territory.
Blackberries: In San Francisco, these grow wild all over Golden Gate Park, Buena Vista Park, and in the Presidio, and can be very sweet. Aim for the higher branches when you find a bush, and mind the thorns.
Dandelion Greens: These are a real find at a city park. You’d pay good money for dandelion greens at a vegetable market. They are a bitter green, and lovely sauteed in olive oil with maybe some potatoes.
Sage and Rosemary. These two very fragrant herbs can be used to flavor pasta or a meat dish. What’s more, they are very easy to find. Rosemary bushes grow all over Twin Peaks. And I think I’ve seen sage at Ocean Beach.
Random bits of hummus, pita corners, tortilla chip crumbs, sandwich crusts, pieces of pizza topping: If you don’t like nasturtiums, blackberries, dandelion greens, or sage and rosemary, simply go to Dolores Park on a sunny Saturday or Sunday and look for bits of food between the overwhelming number of sunbathing bodies. You’re sure to find some discarded or forgotten picnic treats. A couple of tips though: 1) Remember that dogs love Dolores Park. And, 2) if you dress/speak/act like a hipster, you might even ‘find’ some beer. Now that’s what I’d call urban foraging.
Photo courtesy of audreyjm529/Creative Commons