I jogged a new route today and found myself looking for excuses to stop and catch my breath. An Asian woman was foraging for greens along the banks of the Charles carrying a large shopping bag full of them. Since she didn’t look crazy, I stopped to ask what she was picking.
She didn’t speak any English, but she showed me a particular plant that was growing in bushy clumps along the riverbank and gestured that you could eat it. It seemed like something I might have seen before, with leaves in threes that were pointy and jagged on the edges like parsley, but floppy like cilantro. It tasted like grassy sage. I tried to find out what it was called or what she did with it, but really nothing was getting through.
Having only paltry plant knowledge to exchange with her, I reached down to pull some young leaves from a dandelion plant, trying to explain that you could eat those, too. She shook her head thinking I was unable to tell the difference between dandelions and the radically different-looking plant she had just shown me. But I persisted and shoved some of the dandelion greens into my mouth. She looked at me like I was crazy. Then I ran away.
The problem is that now I don’t know what that mystery plant was, and it’s going to drive me insane. If there had been any oxygen getting to my brain at all, I would have brought a sprig home to identify through a series of targeted Google searches (“green plant by river”, “green leaves that taste good”). I thought I saw the exact plant on my run back, but when I popped it into my mouth, it just tasted like weeds.
Anyway, here’s the weed that was the wrong plant. That should be helpful. Anyone know of a tasty wild plant that looks like this?