Undiscovered virtues

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More than just a weed

I spent a very happy day yesterday walking around the gardens of Barton Court in the company of Ben Spice and Kerry Woodfield eating weeds. Did you know that an unprepossessing lawn invader, actually tastes like pineapple and can be made into pannacotta? It was news to me. These two are keen foragers. They are the sort of people you would like to have with you on a desert island. Kerry is an unstoppable fountain of information about the history, evolution and use of plants who can spot a source of food at a hundred yards. Ben - trained under the likes of Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsey - specialises in taking overlooked, disparaged and unlikely ingredients and turning them into something delicious. Their combined talents make being marooned seem curiously appealing. I have been interested in the concept of 'wild food' for some time now. Getting something for nothing is a buzz, as is picking food and eating it almost immediately for maximum freshness. Using weeds adds another dimension to the thrill:  here, you take something that is a negative and make it into a positive. How cool is that? Instead of moaning that your beds are full of ground elder, dig it up and eat it! Apparently, the Romans introduced it as a vegetable. The key to foraging is knowledge. You HAVE to be able to identify a plant correctly before you eat it. If you don't, you could die. This is not a pastime where trial and error is good idea. Learning about the bounty that surrounds us is fascinating. If you would like to find out more then please join us a Barton Court. Kerry and Ben are staging a fun 'taster' evening to introduce you gently to the idea of making a meal of weeds, serving canap├ęs and drinks while they chat to you about the concept. Then, later in August, having seduced you into his way of thinking, Ben will be cooking a gourmet dinner showcasing the best of locally grown, raised and foraged produce. Details can be found on our Events page and will be posted on Facebook shortly.