I adore being out in the forest, whether I’m walking and catching up with friends, hiking or trail running. There is so much life in the forest; you can feel the hum of it all around you. It occurred to me that with so much life, there was also so much food – and wouldn’t it be great to know the things you could eat vs those that could kill you?!
That’s how I found The Urban Hunter Gatherer. Charlie Standing has been an avid forager for a number of years and every once in a while conducts tours for private groups, imparting his knowledge of wild edibles with those who wish to learn.
Together with my girlfriend, sister and brother-in-law, I met Charlie at his house in Walmer Estate early Sunday morning where we had a briefing over coffee, warming our hands at Charlie’s quaint faux-vintage coal heater and patting his charming cat, Marmite. Soon after our eager group ventured out into the cool Cape Town mist to begin our lesson in foraging.
The lesson started the minute we got out of the car and discovered fallen pine cones with pine nuts in the car park. Granted, only one or two of them were unmarred by squirrels and fresh enough to eat, but two free pine nuts in this economy is still good going!
Armed with our wicker baskets and penknives, we trekked through long grass and rustled through fallen oak leaves and found all kinds of fungi – some edible, some deadly poisonous, and we made sure we quickly learned the difference.
The day warmed up and our baskets filled with giant wild porcinis, white parasols, cracked boletus, pine ring mushrooms and Cape Sorrel flowers. Back in the car park we harvested some num nums (Natal plums) before heading back to Charlie’s with our loot to cook up a storm.
Take a look at my Steller Story below: