A midwinter forage

by Sarah on January 17, 2013

rain drops on window

In kindergarten my boys were taught that yellow and blue make green.  That’s true perhaps in art class but not in life. Green is the alchemy between water and sunlight in their passionate yet brief winter fling.  The land pulsates with photosynthesis- at first tentatively- tiny seeds, dormant from summer, awaken- then continue to grow in a glorious effervescent display. The air is thick with the scent of chlorophyll; every molecule resonates before the insidious summer heat makes its cyclic return.

dandelion {Taraxacum cyprium better known as dandelion. Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.} iris in Israel {Iris palaestina}

These weeks have been wet- the atmosphere heavy and unremitting. It is no longer a phenomenon but a nuisance.  But complaints are short and always end with “we need this rain” or “at least the Kinneret is filling up”.

A few months previously a cloud burst was broadcasted as breaking news across the country.  On cue, radio stations began playing a marathon of rain songs with Phill Collins’s I Wish it Would Rain Down topping the list.  The yoreh (inflection on second syllable) is Hebrew for the first shower that falls after the extended summer drought and marks the coming of winter. It has occurred annually from prehistoric times, yet every year it comes as a complete surprise.  Nobody takes an umbrella despite the weather forecasts- after more than 120 consecutive days of the brightest blue skies- it seems to go against nature.  Those not getting drenched, gaze in wonder at the heavens, calling “Hey, it’s raining! Come see!” Once the novelty wears thin, however, the issue with the municipality drainage system becomes the hot new topic.

almonds and acorns {Left- Almonds. They can be cracked opened and eaten however care should be taken to avoid bitter almonds that contain cyanide. Acorns, on right, can only be eaten after leaching out bitter tannins.}

 

ramle and surroundings, halil

{Top right- Halil’s hummus restaurant in Ramle, for many the shrine of hummus. Water reservoir near Modi’in. Mosque in Ramle}

So far winter has brought a nice dosage of precipitation with snow being the rarest and most sought-after.   While thousands made their way to higher ground to seek the elusive white stuff, we stayed closer to home. I’d have loved to join them but lacked the stamina to brave the traffic jams.  Instead we explored the tamer views around Modi’in, first stopping in Ramle to buy a few containers of hummus, masabacha and tabouleh for an impromptu picnic.

The boys raced ahead and I, like always, was less interested in our destination than by the numerous plants that seemed to appear overnight.  By late spring most of what I see will have disappeared. Green will only be a color on the palette.

wild edible plants in Israel {Top left- Milk weed (Silybum marianum) with Chrysanthemum coronarium, top right- Mallow (A malva species), bottom left- mustard greens, bottom right- stinging nettle} arum and za'atar and clematis {Left- za’atar (Majorana syriaca), top right- Clematis cirrhosa (not edible but a garden plant), bottom right- Arum, poisonous unless cooked correctly}

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And how can we forget, Israel’s favorite rainy day singer……Phil Collins

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa January 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Lovely pictures, wonderful plants and dreamlike landscapes!

Cheers,

Rosa

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Sarah January 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Thank you Rosa!

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Yael January 18, 2013 at 1:15 am

Gorgeous photos. Our neighborhood looks so beautiful this time of year. In two months all will disappear. Have a great weekend.

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usha January 18, 2013 at 3:04 am

Sarah,
At the risk of sounding repetetive…beautiful pictures and write-up.
The wild, white Iris quite takes my breath away.
Thanks.

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Yael the Finn January 18, 2013 at 7:57 am

What a lovely foraging tour! I love wild edibles and I remember when we were in your house and made that delicious bread with all the wild edible weeds we picked near your house :)

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Sarah January 18, 2013 at 9:04 am

Yael the Finn, Thanks, we should do another neighborhood foraging event. Was fun last time we did it.

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Eha January 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm

What an interesting walkabout! Hard to think that when the warm weather returns for you much of this will go, whereas for us that is the beginning of greening and blooming :) !

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Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb January 21, 2013 at 7:16 am

Hi Sarah!

Its such a relieving feeling when it rains for the first time after a long drought. I learned to value rain only in Asia, in Europe its more of a nuisance.

I didn’t know that the stinging nettle grows in Israel, its such a useful plant. I think so I have sighted one type here in goa, but I am not totaly sure if its a stinging nettle. Locals say it stings when touching but it barely does anything.

The Arum looks like our Elehant ears here. Recently I discovered that elephant ears are called taro too and it seems that the root is used to make an expensive shake in Singapore. Could it be that its the same plant or that they are brothers?

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Sarah January 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Not sure if the elephant ears and Arum are related. I will do a google search to find out…Interesting that the root is used instead of the leaves. Thanks for the comment!

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Sarah January 21, 2013 at 9:44 pm

I see the elephant ears (Colocasia) and arum are from the same family- Araceae. Both contain the irritant calcium oxalate monohydrate and why they can’t be eaten raw.

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