I was much braver as a child.
At least I thought nothing of picking – and, more to the point, eating – field mushrooms when, at around this time of year, they would poke their heads above the soily parapet in the field across the way. My adult self, I’m afraid, wouldn’t dream of plucking so freely now – at least not without spending more time in the company of someone who knew what they were about, mushroom-wise, where a very fine line can exist between deliciousness and death.
Mary Bulfin, longtime forager and wild foods expert
Mary Bulfin, luckily, can navigate her way around the mushroom kingdom with more confidence than most, and when an invitation came my way to spend a weekend at Farnham Estate in Co. Cavan, which would include a foraging walk, as guided by Mary, through the estate’s extensive woodlands, I packed my wellies and headed north.
Irish woodland: beech trees abound but spuds, not so much
This weekend found me foraging about in the wilds of Co. Cavan (or perhaps the not-so-wilds, given that I was in the rather lovely surroundings of Farnham Estate). While my walk in the Cavan woods turned up all sorts of things (and I will report in full at a later date), potatoes were, unsurprisingly, not one of them. Though I am of a naturally optimistic bent when it comes to spuds (as you might, by now, have noticed), the truth is that there is very little chance of me (or anyone else) finding truly wild potatoes in this country – and the odd stray tuber that has escaped the harvest and sprouted anew doesn’t really count.
“Writing today in the Irish Times…”
Well now, that’s not a phrase I ever supposed I would use. In reference to myself, I mean.
However, gracing the pages of Wild Ireland, a special report on biodiversity published with today’s Irish Times, there are some words from yours truly on the food you might find in the wilds of Ireland – including dandelions, nettles, wild garlic, mushrooms, carrageen moss and blackberries.
It tops off a week that included a glorious gathering of Irish food bloggers, organised by Donal Skehan and Bord Bia, and about which you can expect a full report anon. Meanwhile, if you can’t get hold of a copy of the Irish Times, here’s what I had to say…