Food writer Sophie Pryn offers us an alternative guide to fresh food on campus!
Perhaps it is those long lost days spent making mud pies as children, looking longingly at them, hoping that they would transform in to something edible, or maybe it is the surfacing of a more ancient, primal instinct that we've suppressed for tens of thousands of years. After joining the tail end of a queue that snaked its way around the whole of Tesco Express, only to be served by a tired old woman who stared blankly at me when I tried to made friendly conversation, I wouldn't be surprised if our complete and utter despair with bland supermarket shopping had something to do with the increasing popularity of foraging.
A far cry from many foodie trends, foraging is remarkably accessible and, most importantly, remarkably cheap. Many wild ingredients, like wild garlic or dandelion leaves, need little work doing to them and can simply be added to meals to introduce an unusual taste.
For those who think that gathering wild food is synonymous with the heavy duty anorak or socks-and-sandal wearers of this world, be confidently assured, it is possible to look completely socially acceptable whilst foraging. I might also add that it also does not involve eating road-kill. You may want to exhale another relieved breath when I tell you that, even if you're not a country bumpkin, finding food for free is still a viable option for you. Indeed, once you know what to look out for you will notice an abundance of edible plants and fruit almost everywhere you go, from car parks and road sides to gardens and playgrounds.
A quick stroll through the campus reveals that for over two years I have been walking past rosehips, trees heavy with crab apples, tangled brambles which, only a few weeks ago would have been brimming over with blackberries, and sprawling rosemary bushes outside of the gym without so much as a second thought. Who knows what else is lurking there outside of our lecture theatres, labs and seminar rooms?
For more information on foraging, buy Richard Mabey's pocket size guide, Food For Free, sold in Waterstones on campus.
Rosemary Potato Recipe
A perfect accompaniment to lamb and other hearty meat dishes – bypass the shop and pick up the rosemary after your session at the gym for free!
1. Parboil 1kg of new potatoes until almost tender
2. When they're done drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary that have been picked from the stalk and bashed with a rolling pin or the back of a spoon.
3. Preheat the oven to 200c/425F/gas 7. Then put the potatoes in a roasting tray for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Written by Sophie Pryn