Saturday, August 18, 2012

Yummy Lunch Break Finds

I watched them from my office window; two girls with big metal buckets who leaped out of a pickup truck and darted across the road where they began to pluck things off the bushes by the railway tracks. "What in the world?" I thought, before turning my attention back to work. It wasn't until later that day, when the big post office truck pulled up and the delivery man did the exact same thing, that I realized those bushes must have something good to offer. A few minutes later, the delivery man asked if he could use our office sink to rinse his berries.

"Berries?" I asked.
"Yeah, look ..." and he held out his hand to reveal a fistful of wild blackberries.

It took me a few days to work up the courage to get out there myself. I had visions of putting a berry in my mouth and being instantly knocked off like that girl in the Hunger Games. Growing up, we had a big tree in our backyard that had crabapples of some sort on it. My mother used to tell me if I ate them, I'd get poisoned. I'm still not sure if that was fact or if she was just trying to keep my appetite for dinner, but either way I was terrified these wild blackberries might be just as ominous.

I did a little research and came across an article published in a reputable newspaper mentioning how the neighborhood where I work is popular for its wild blackberry bushes by the old railway tracks. That, paired with the fact that the delivery guy showed up the next day still alive and well, gave me the courage I needed. I grabbed a plastic cup and marched over there before I could change my mind. 20 minutes later, I was back at my desk with this:

About 2 and a half cups of fresh, wild blackberries. I would have grabbed more, but I hadn't really planned ahead so all I had to use was a large plastic cup left-over from my iced coffee that morning. Still, 2 cups of blackberries would easily go for $4 or more at a grocery store so I was really happy with my finds!

I decided to make a cobbler using the blackberries and some blueberries we had in our fridge. Unfortunately, the recipe didn't turn out well ... it was just WAY too sweet. The dough didn't rise properly, and it ended up tasting more like a blackberry-blueberry syrup than a proper cobbler. I was perfectly okay with the recipe failure, though, because the blackberries were 100% FREE and therefore perfect for recipe experimentation!

I did a quick search online and it turns out blackberries aren't the only thing you can find growing wild in urban Vancouver. I found an excellent article here explaining the trend and there's even an online map to wild edibles in Vancouver, here. Will I actively seek out places to snag free edibles? Not sure ... but am I planning to make another stop by those blackberry bushes next week. :)

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