Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have romantic notions of being able to live off the fat of the land. To be able to go out into the wilderness and find enough free food for your dinner and be able to thrive upon it too.
This could be a byproduct of watching too many TV survival programs like Ray Mears, Bear Grylls…or even The Bush Tucker Man for those of you more mature types.
Last year I even came across a pocket size guide to identifying wild food whilst I was forced to peruse the local garden centre. Like a shot I picked it up and the dream of free food was almost a reality, so off I popped to the cashier to buy it with a mission to go forth and forage.
Well, suffice to say that’s about as far as I got. When I got home I skipped through the pages and none of it even resembled a steak and chips, so it was soon relegated to the sideboard drawer to gather dust.
It was only the other day however that I noticed wild mushrooms growing along the path that I normally walk my dog and then whilst out riding a trail later in the day did I come across an old tree trunk that was now nursery to stacked mushrooms too.
Whenever you’re out and about you always find lots of berries or other fruits from fruit trees long forgotten had been planted there. The next time you’re out walking along a hedge or road side just look out for apple, pear or plum trees…you’ll be surprised how many there are.
However, whilst fruits and berries are easy to find, anything else is much more of a faff and you’re really taking a chance with your life if you eat the wrong kind of mushroom too.
So it becomes a bit of a fruitless exercise, pardon the pun! There’s a bounty of goodness just waiting to be picked but you either don’t even know it’s there or rightly you’re too smart to try anything that could be dangerous to your health…and anything else just looks like weeds or wild salads…again not steak and chips!
I only have myself to blame of course! If only I had studied the book a bit more then I might never go hungry on my travels or if I get caught out one day and I’m forced to rough it for the night.
However, all of this can be overcome by packing a coupe of peanut butter sandwiches in your backpack before you go out…but that’s hardly the point is it…or isn’t it?
Whilst I respect the purpose of knowing where food is and what is edible or not, the chances of being stuck out in the wilds for days on end without food is hardly realistic in the UK. Agreed if your somewhere else in the world then that might be the case too but then again it really is a slim chance that you’ll ever need to use any of that knowledge.
So then why do I find this so interesting and why am I always thinking that I should really know more about it. Perhaps it’s because I spend so much time off the beaten track that it plays in my mind.
Perhaps it’s because I keep on thinking that I could be surrounded by free food when I’m out in my travels and it seems such a waste to not exploit what is on offer.
At some stage I shall find some wild garlic, a plum and a mushroom and have a feast for lunch. Maybe I should snare a squirrel, which seem to be everywhere I ride…if only I could stomach the thought of killing an animal for no other reason than to prove that I could do it.
Or most likely I’ll do none of these things, but I’ll take my little camping stove with me and a box of ingredients too. I’ll stop off somewhere and do a bit of alfresco cooking. I shall be the caveman for the day and hunt for green shoots from the hedges, meat and eggs from my top box and olive oil from my panniers.
I shall be the mighty warrior and the fierce forager. I shall cook aplenty and feed the five thousand, or this within my mind at least…but one day I promise myself I shall find something to eat along my travels and I shall date to eat it too…but make sure I’m never too far away from a supermarket or a public loo just in case the foraging really didn’t agree with my bottom.
Well on that cheery note I shall return to my glass of wine and pate on toast and consider all the things I could find and eat in my next travels…or perhaps just plan a bit stop at a local cafe. That just might be safer all around for everyone!