Ahead of her upcoming demo, Celia Brooks talks about the ‘invisible’ food source that’s right on our doorstep
When you live by your wits in one of the most expensive cities in the world, getting a good bargain becomes a survivalist art. Getting something valuable for free is a rare but satisfying gift that gives you a bit of an adrenalin buzz. Depending on your interpretation of value, there are tonnes of free gifts out there for the taking, when you know what to look for and where to look.
People who know the price of everything and the value of nothing won’t appreciate the kind of free gifts I’m talking about, but if you’re interested in how to get genuine little thrills that will enhance your wellbeing, read on. A slightly nerdy foodie disposition would come in handy, too—but you probably wouldn’t be here reading this article if you didn’t have that to some degree.
Invisible Food is an ongoing urban foraging project founded by Ceri Buckmaster, my partner for the free cooking demo this Friday at Borough Market as part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival. “’Invisible food’ refers to everything that sustains us that isn’t ordinarily visible,” says Ceri. “The ‘food’ is the wild foods such as nettle or elderflower that we can harvest and learn how to use.”
However, there is also a deeper, more soulful interpretation of invisible food as something that “sustains us emotionally and spiritually, and creates a strong community and connection with the earth.” As city dwellers, most of us are naïve to the plethora of free food available in our urban green spaces, and seeking it can be a mindful and healing antidote to city life.
Ripe for picking
Do you know your mallow from your goosegrass? Would you be surprised to learn that these delicious edibles are likely to be ripe for picking a few strides away from your office? With a little bit of knowledge, invisible food suddenly reveals itself in abundance. You will be amazed how many previously invisible free edible gifts are all around you, all year round, and once your curiosity is aroused you will start seeing them everywhere.
You can tap into your primitive DNA and very easily learn to recognise edible plants (and how to identify poisonous ones too). It is a primeval form of learning, and it actually makes you feel quite clever. This, combined with civilised common sense for safety and an informed respect for the environment, adds up to a fun and deeply rewarding exercise, both outdoors and in the kitchen.
For £5 per person, you can join Ceri’s foraging walk Friday 26th May from 11am—12:30pm around parks in Bermondsey. You’ll bring your haul back to the demo kitchen at Borough Market, where Ceri and I will present a free cooking demo utilising the harvest. We are anticipating cooking stuffed lime tree leaves, elderflower fritters, sea purslane tempura, creamed ground elder pasta, and more, and all will be available to taste, along with recipe cards to take home. Don’t miss this unique event to celebrate the soulful abundance of May in London!