G is for Gluttony

In June, Field Kitchen visited London’s square mile, to search for wild food growing in the city. Starting each day at the Bank of England, I travelled in a different direction, asking – how far from the heart of Capital do you have to go to find life? This intervention set out to investigate the botanical poverty in the richest part of the country, looking for a different kind of wealth.

G is for Gluttony was one of eight ‘postcapitalist interventions’ taking place from 16-21 June 2009, as part of C.R.A.S.H Culture and Artsadmin‘s festival:  ‘2 Degrees: Art, Activism and the Global Climate Emergency’.

The City’s Secrets

I set out on this experiment expecting to find little in the way of edible plants in the Square Mile. But riding a mobile kitchen around the heart of London was full of surprises. Each day I moved slowly through the city streets, looking for pockets of green nestled between banks and office blocks. Foraging breeds slowness, and it was a remarkable experience to move around this area – where everybody is in a hurry – at a speed governed by plants. Following spots of green on the map, and my nose, I stumbled upon unexpected abundance. Delicious june berries driping off a row of decorative trees, wild rocket sprouting out of London Wall, a defiant field of chickweed occupying a flowerbed next to the Barbican.

The maps below are a record of my four days foraging in the city, and the meals I created as a result.  Many thanks to everybody who accompanied me and tasted the fruits of the City.

Wednesday: North(ish)

Map_northEuropeArab bank window box: Rosemary> Finsbury Circus: dry sticks> Girdlers Hall: June berries> Memorial garden, Lamb street: Two stawrberries> Car park, Lamb street: Wintercress> Fortune Street Park: Elderflowers> The Royal Statistical society: Bay leaves> Bunhill Buriel Ground: Chickweed, Lime Leaves, Plantain, Fat Hen, Dandilion> Banner street flats: Fennel and oregano> Quakers garden: Mallow, Mugwort, Lime Flowers, Dead Nettle flowers; Bittercress.

The Field Kitchen Cooked:

Mallow leaf soup  seasoned with foraged herbs; A salad of lime leaves, wintercress, chickweed, plantain, fat hen, fennel, strawberries, mallow flowers, deadnettle flowers & borage flowers; juneberries; lime flower tea.

Thursday: West(ish)

Map_westCannon street, abandoned corporate building: Bittercress> St Pauls Cathederal: Lavender, Rose, Lime Leaves> London Wall: Wild rocket, chickweed, mugwort> Aldersgate: a large crop of chickweed> Barbican: Lime flowers> Charterhouse Square: Yarrow and plantain, dry sticks> Abandonded site behind Charterhouse square: Mint> Three Corners Adventure Playground, Northampton Road: Yarrow, nettles, chives, mallow, plantain> Percival Street: Elderflowers.

The Field Kitchen Cooked:

Lime Leaf wraps filled with Nettle, Yarrow, Chickweed, Chive & Plantain; Elderflower fritters with Juneberry sauce; Mugwort tea.

Friday: South(ish)Map_south

Bank of England window box: Rogue mustard leaf> Walbrook street: Gingko leaves> Red Lion Court: Sumac> Red Cross Road park: Lavender, rosemary, meadowsweet> Behind Suffolk street flats: Yarrow> Beautiful secret alleyway off Brockham street: Mallow, nettle, garlic mustard, lime leaves> Car park on Harper road: Fennel; Tabbard garden: Mugwort> Southward street: Fat Hen.

The Field Kitchen Cooked:

Nettle, yarrow and lime leaf burgers, seasoned with dried sea lettuce & sea purslane: Salad of lime leaves, fat hen, wild rocket, mustard leaf, garlic mustard, mallow, borage and marigold flowers; Gingko, rosemary and mint tea.

Saturday: East (ish)

Map_eastGirdler’s Hall: Juneberries> Behind Spitalfields Market: Sumac> Churchyard, Commercial Street: Mallow, oregano, lemon balm, mulberries, passion flowers> Underwood road: chammomile and dry sticks> Spitalfields City Farm: red clover, a few logan berries, borage flowers> Bethnal Green park: self seeded fennel, dog rose, mint, elderflowers> Bethnal Green road planters: Fat Hen.

The Field Kitchen cooked:

Mallow leaf soup; Salad of Lime leaves, Fat Hen, fennel, red clover, borage flowers; Chammomile Tea; Elderflower fritters.

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