I never thought that wild mushrooms in Malaysia and Singapore could be edible. The image of picking mushrooms from the ground and placing them in a weaved basket to bring home for dinner doesn’t seem realistic here. It’s only possible in a children’s storybook happening in temperate Europe where everything is pristine, not in our tropical land of mosquitoes and leeches.
I realized this isn’t true ever since we started staying at Project Lui. We are in the rural villages amidst foggy mountains and waterfalls. Knowledge of the land is still somewhat strong here and people still forage for food in the wild. One of the wild mushrooms we learned about is the termite mushroom. Actually I came up with the name myself because I don’t think there’s a common name in English for it. In Malay, it’s “cendawan busut” (cendawan means mushroom). The scientific name is Termitomyces sp., which provides a clue about this mushroom. Termito like termites, and myces like fungus. Continue reading
Twenty snails harvested in a few minutes on a drizzling day
Yes they are. We have eaten them a few times over the past months. The snails at Project Canossian have been munching away at our seedlings and we thought that the best way for pest control would be to introduce a natural predator – the Homo sapiens. In a more diverse ecosystem, we would probably get more natural predators like ducks, lizards, beetles, birds, snakes, etc. However this is not common in an urban area surrounded by lawns.
A favorite permaculture adage is “the problem is the solution“. And as Bill Mollison says “You don’t have a snail problem, you have a duck deficiency!” Over here, our duck deficiency is solved by some very omnivorous human beings.
To be accurate, these are the common snails you see all over Singapore. The kind you might have stepped on accidentally after a rainy day. They are known as African Land Snails (Achatina fulica). Before attempting the African Land Snails, we have actually tried eating the very invasive Golden Apple Snails (Pomacea canaliculata), commonly found at the reservoirs with their pink eggs along the water edges.
In an urban garden that does not have any livestock, these garden snails are the only source of meat. In fact, they are said to be very healthy because they are low in fats. If you are looking to be more self-sufficient in food, these snails are a great addition to all the greens for a whole diet. Not to mention they are free-range, organic, wild foraged, hand-picked, and “add any fancy marketing term here“. Continue reading
Michelle is our resident forager. If you get the chance to take a stroll with her, you might notice that she has the ability to stop suddenly to pluck off some weed-looking plant from the roadside and put it in her mouth. She will be sharing her foraging diaries with us in hope that we can start seeing the forest as a free grocery store. Here goes…
We got word about a day before about some chefs wanting to forage – Mads Reflunds, fresh off the 4×4 event, with other chefs – Dave from Burnt Ends, Bryan from Morsels, Denise who gathered us all, us farmer folks, and Rebecca, interviewing Mads for the Straits Times.
We brought the guys to NTU (Nanyang Technological University), one of my favourite spots for the curious plants, including the fragrant Tonkin Jasmine, with its mandarin colored, edible flowers blossoms.
I am observing the responses. Uncle Ng leads the tour, serving his usual rounds of herbal tea (which I politely turn down). Mads gingerly picks up, and sniffs the Asiatic Pennywort, Centella Asiatica, breaking into a grin – finally – someone who gets excited by ingredients! (often times I get blank stares when I share with friends about this).
Asiatic Pennywort (Centella Asiatica); circular leaves, singular stemmed
Butterfly Pea (Clitoria Ternatea); vine climbers, distinctive blue (or white) flowers
Shinybush (Peperomia Pellucida); succulent stems, heart shaped, shiny leaves
We move through a few other plants familiar to us – Wild Mints, Shinybush, Wormwood, Blue Butterfly Pea and Yellow Pea flowers, Wild Maracuja (tiny in size), etc. I am once again exhausted from the mosquitos that leave me bitten and bleeding. Continue reading