Norwood High Street in South London – cars, noise, dust and chaos. It’s the last place you would expect to find food growing wild. However, hidden in the urbanity exists a fragile, fertile world of flowers, plants, and herbs.
Ceri Buck – expert urban food forager – aims to open our eyes to this world with her ‘Invisible Food Foraging Tours’ when the Slow Food Festival opens in West Norwood next weekend.
Invisible Food responds to the global necessity to live more locally, and to rely less on transport. It responds to our lack of earthly connections in our inner city areas. It provides an opportunity to get on first name terms with local plants and to cook them up – not just your usual leaf-and-nettle fare, but delicious and exotic plants such as wild garlic, dandelion, hop shoots, elderflower, and fennel. In other words, foods you actually want to eat.
“We go around scraps of land, green spaces and parks,” says Ceri “and point out the parts that are edible. We pick where possible, and have a cook up at the end. We also create new recipes from the food we’ve found – not just soups and stews, but food that reflects the ethnic diversity of the area: West African styles for instance, or Caribbean styles and Asian.”
The ethos of Invisible Food is as much about friendship and community as it is about discovering, cooking and eating, As Ceri explains: “It’s about food, but it’s also about something a little more social: about people coming out, walking together and connecting, so it’s about something soulful. These plants will grow anywhere, they’ll grow in the cracks in the pavement, they’ll grow in the road… we’ll help you find and identify them.”
Ceri’s foraging tour is just one of dozens of free food events taking place across West Norwood on March 31st, a day where the local community has united to promote not only the virtues of the ‘slow food’ ethos (food you cook yourself, with love and time, using healthy, sustainable and organic ingredients as much as possible), but also to celebrate best of British recipes, methods and food, and the very best local food artisans and chefs. Come along.