So, while living amongst the tee pee folk I was introduced to an awesome woman named Holly who lives right up the hill and is mega-hardcore into wild edible plants and such. So hardcore, in fact, that she hosts these giant weed-eating feasts. I'm not talking about grazing like farm animals, but 6 course meals of stir fry, casserole, pie, salads, and all sorts of other examples of culinary greatness.
Holly and her son had gathered a ton of various wild plants that grow in the area, most of which are likely pictured on the back of that bottle of weed killer you keep in the garage. She put us all to work in the kitchen dicing and chopping assorted leaves and roots and flowers and seeds and adding them to the various recipes. It seemed we were taking normal, delicious dishes and replacing all the veggies with the stuff that I considered random weeds. It was sure to be a disaster and I was gearing myself up for the disappointment, while simultaneously trying to learn as much as possible. As a backpacker, I wanted to know how to identify and prepare wild edibles in the area. That sort of information is invaluable in the wilderness, though I didn't think it would be much use in a modern kitchen where broccoli and salt could be found readily.
Shows what I know. The meal, 6 or 7 different dishes, not counting the uber-badass apple pie, smelled so good I was about to chew off my own arm just to fill my stomach. When it was all ready and we dug in, I was totally and utterly floored. This was some seriously good cooking. I've been cursed with some bland meals on this trip and as a Cajun, that's something I can't tolerate. In most places I've been, the food has been boring and bland. This meal, engineered by Holly and prepared by the guests, was beyond rock-awesome (technical term). I piled my plate high and ate it down to the porcelain. Everything on there was killer-good and the flavors were so rich and defined. They were also so new. Many of the ingredients tasted similar to something I was familiar with, but different enough to make it interesting.
The drinks were assorted teas made from just about everything you can imagine, like peaches, honey, and about a thousand other things, all mixed together to make about 5 different bottles, each with its own brand of goodness. I took a little of each so I could sample them all. Then we were also treated to some fresh mint tea, made from mint leaves picked earlier, and pine needle tea that I helped gather.
I learned a bit more about wild edibles after dinner, but my education really picked up when I spotted Holly outside my tee pee the following day, foraging in the area. I walked with her, picking things that she pointed out and learned each by name. I wasn't sure when I'd be able to put my knowledge to use, but the opportunity came earlier than I thought. This morning, while walking through the town of Boone, I passed through a vacant lot near downtown. While walking through, the assorted weeds sprang out at me as plantain, mullein, burdock, dandelion and red clover. Even in the dim light of the early morning, I was able to spot the different plants with ease. By the time I had walked to the far end of the lot, I had eaten my breakfast. By the way, red clover blossoms taste exactly like broccoli.
So that was all cool. My newfound knowledge is coming in handy already... and a few hours ago a random guy informed me that tomorrow night is the first annual Boone Zombie March where potentially 150 people will dress as zombies and march on the town of Boone, raiding shops, coffee houses and bars. How do I keep finding myself among zombies?