Dark, milk, plain, white or studded with all manner of added-value add-ins, chocolate is nigh on impossible to ignore at this time of year. Falling hard on the heels of the official chocolate day of February 14th, Easter seems now to be all about this most of desirous of sweets. I’m not sure where this obsession with chocolate has come from but, as a mother, I have for years been caught up in procuring the best, most delicious chocolate egg I can find. But last week, looking at the piled high confectionery contents of passing shopping trolleys, I noted that my single egg, nestled uncomfortably with the broccoli, salmon and muesli, was a bit paltry in comparison. Nearly empty nest syndrome. Nest envy. Call it what you like but this nutrition-aware mom felt a pang of guilt for not heeding the call of the aisle.
It is amazing to me, and not a bit saddening, that in a few generations a religious holiday, a major one at that has, in the UK at least, morphed into a celebration of chocolate. But it has. In fact a recent British poll found that a quarter of children polled thought that the holiday was celebrating the Easter Bunny’s birthday, and that 53% of all polled didn’t know what it celebrated, seeing it instead as a sanctified opportunity to eat chocolate.
Ostensibly for the kiddies, really it’s just as much about us as it is them. Whether as an old-fashioned Easter egg hunt in the garden with marshmallow chicks, painted eggs and foil-wrapped choccies (fond memories from my rather wonderful childhood), or a fancy box at the foot of the bed, we adults connive to get our share.
Being a one-child family chocolate eggs were a bit thin on the ground, but it was arranged that Miss R would have a hollow Lindt egg, accompanied in its plastic carapace by an overflowing handful of Lindor truffles. You know, the ones with the soft, very bad for you centres that taste of toffee and bonfires. As I have protested on numerous occasions, I am not a chocolate fiend, but I must admit a certain weakness for the old Lindor truffle. And so it has come to pass that I am in charge of the Lindor truffles. Miss R and Mr A have bravely/foolishly ventured forth in a snow shower to do a bit of wild camping while I am home working and trying to ignore the small treasure chest of shiny red and white twists of said truffles. It is proving quite a challenge, especially as I have ignored my own advice and have skipped lunch entirely. It was just the one. Truly. But I am glad, in more ways that one, that my little family returns tomorrow with their pile of dirty washing and their hair smelling of campfires, and saves me from myself.
And so this little adventure in foraging is my antidote to chocolate. Savoury, a bit salty, these fritters are filled to the absolute brim with green, minerally goodness. I know the asparagus is cheating, but it tastes too darn good to leave out. You could of course use just the fruits of your foraging, a la Richard Mabey.
At this time of year I can hardly resist the lure of the woods around the corner from our house, holding as they do such edible treasures as nettles, borage, young dandelions and sticky jack. For the wild garlic I go down to the nearby Water of Leith and selectively, and conservatively, pick the abundant wild garlic from the steep banks, away from dogs and trampling feet.
I have recently found and bookmarked a great foraging calendar listing UK edibles. Lots of stuff I haven’t heard of, let alone tried, but I am up for most of it. Last year I was almost tempted by the thought of fiddlehead burgers, but never got around to it. I like to stick to the more mundane end of foraging and, unless you are with an experienced guide, I suggest you do the same. Here are some good pointers from Nature’s Secret Larder to get you going.
Do you forage? What do you forage for? What do you do with your free finds? I would love to hear about your foraging adventures, and any hints of secret woods or valleys for rare and delectable treats (x marks the spot map optional!!).