(2 MINUTE READ)
It is a bright summer’s morning in Berlin. There’s a sweetness to the air. The kind of smell that seems to blend the aroma of the blooming Elderflower with the warm and happy spirit of summer.
A group of friends are taking a short drive up to Dammsmühle Schloss–an abandoned castle, tucked away between giant pines and towering beech trees.
The nearly forgotten mansion rests silently in an equally neglected but flourishing garden–its rough and flaky exterior softened by the blanket of nettles, hugging it in a thick embrace. The friends have come to forage, drawn here not by the castle, but the green and dense bounty that surrounds it.
Like butterflies bouncing from petal to leaf, they move through the underbrush, combing the forest for Dandelion, Cleavers and Silverweed.
With notebook tucked in arm and handbook splayed open, the foragers explore, examine and gather. Together they scrutinise the variegated leaves of a newly found species, its peppery taste and puffy meat proving it to be the Sedum Acre they presumed. But “be careful”, a note warns from the pages, “only to be ingested in small quantities”.
Leaf by leaf, their harvest is carefully plucked and stowed. They know that beneath that sharp sting, every nettle is packed with anti-oxidants, wrapped up in strong salty flavours. They know also, not to take too much. Ecosystems are fragile and must be foraged with care.
As the afternoon sun falls below the tree line, a doily of golden rays start to dot the earth. It is time to head home. A feast awaits them there. But there’s preparation to be done. Soon their yield will be sorted, washed, cooked or mashed into pesto.
Back home the friends convene in the airy kitchen. A vase is stuffed with wild flowers, collected for the table. The evening has cooled down considerably but the summer heat still clings to their clothes and there’s a promise of rain now in the air.
Exuberant from a day spent in the country–bathing in sunlight, dodging mosquitoes and watching dragonflies dart through the sky–the friends sit down to eat. They’re hungry and pleased with their efforts.
There is something mightily enchanting about dining this way. A return to balance perhaps. To an unhurried life where the act of eating moves beyond mere consumption. As in the days before time, surroundings have once more become sustenance. Every burst of flavour harks back to the moment it was plucked. Like a moreish memory of the life that now nourishes.
As thick heavy rain drops begin to tap-tap and race down window panes, the friends raise their cups to toast. The golden Elderflower syrup, swirling in their hands, refreshingly sweet.