urban foraging

ginkgo biloba.  ginkgo trees have been around for centuries.  reportedly since the time of the dinosaurs.  they have an entire classification of their own, they don’t have to share with entitled older siblings, spoiled younger ones or even the begrudged middle child.  they survived, but the dinosaurs did not.  this only can lead me to the conclusion that dinosaurs did not eat the fruit of the gingko tree, otherwise the increased blood flow to their brains would have helped them to survive extinction.  gingkos are beautiful trees that are quite popular amongst landscapers.  most prefer the male tress, as they bear no fruit, but sexing small tress is not quite as easy as it is with kittens or puppies.  as a result you may often come across female gingko trees loaded with apricot colored fruits in the mid to late fall.  patrick and i are slightly obsessed with our food.  we grow food, cook food, preserve food, talk about food, and read about food.  we have lengthy discourses concerning memorable meals and what we would like to try in the future.  don’t get me wrong, we are not foodies.  we are more carla emory without christ on our side.  we love food, but we also love foraging for food.  my friend leah would probably disagree with me and say that we are foodies, but we came at it through the back door.  although i am sure she would appreciate any mention of carla emory.  this year patrick and i have foraged for a number of foods, all within 2 miles of our home, in detroit.  we picked enough apples from abandoned trees in our neighborhood this year to make and can several pints of apple sauce and apple butter as well as make a few gallons of hard cider and cyser.  we have foraged for apricots to make mead that is the color of sunshine in a bottle and to dry for our granola this winter.  we have eaten chickweed and lamb’s quarters  salads.  we have climbed on top of rickety ladders to try and get the last few tart cherries from the tree across the street.  we have waded through seas of mosquitoes to shake the few ripe fruits off the elusive paw paw tree.  well you get the point.  so our latest adventure on our day off was to forage for gingko nuts.  there are a few things you should know about this fruit.  for one it is highly prized in japanese and chinese cooking.  apparently in central park people treat gingko trees like gang territory, so watch where you forage in new york.  detroit doesn’t have that problem.  the fruit of the gingko tree is about the size of an apricot and is apricot colored.  it hangs off of a long stem and shrivels slightly as it ripens.  the fruit falls off the tree when it is ripe.  the outer fruit is what some may call putrid smelling, often likened to vomit.  you do not eat the fruit.  the fruit conceals an oval shell that is about the size and color of a pistachio shell.  hidden in the shell is the nut, a soft jade green nut about the size of a pinto bean.  it in fact tastes slightly beany.  seeing as the fruit smells bad, patrick and i each donned a pair of bright yellow dishwashing gloves to gather our prizes.  one tree we found that was pretty loaded also happened to be on the campus of wayne state university and on a pretty major thoroughfare.  needless to say i think we caused a bit of head scratching.  people were staring and pointing at us as they drove by in their cars.  one man actually came up to us and before asking what we were doing grabbed a rotting fruit from the ground and started pulling aside the stinking flesh.  after asking what we were doing i think he was even more confused due to the smell it had left on is hands.  that is why we are wearing gloves we told him.  i actually expected it to be stinkier than it was.  but after smelling the results of two pallets of tvp (textured vegetable protein) rotting in patrick’s compost pile i don’t think anything can smell as bad as that.  so once home with our haul we spent another hour or two removing the fruit (outside) and washing and roasting the nuts.  as a result our kitchen smelled slightly of toasted vomit.  you may ask if it was worth it and i would say yes.  after all the gingko nuts are reputed to increase blood flow to your brain and increase your brain power. plus when the end of the world arrives i am sure the gingko tree will still be standing, and if i am too, i’ll know at least one thing to eat.

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1 Comment

Filed under drawing

One response to “urban foraging

  1. JC

    Good post, awesome drawings, and good imagery. I love being able to see so clearly images of you kids roaming all over the place. Last night I met a woman who grew up in Detroit in that Woodsomethin’ area just north of you, and she said that about a decade ago she’d gone before the city council to establish a community garden in an abandoned lot, and got absolutely no where. She was really excited to hear about what you guys do, and said she often thinks about moving back. I gave her my card and told her to contact me if she does, and I’d give her y’alls contact info. She was very, very cool.

    Love you.

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