MEAT FREE MONDAY | Where the Wild Things Are...


Photo by Carey Nershi

Every month Mr P and I take a trip to visit his folks at their countryside home. Mr P's father picked us up from the train station, as usual, and drove us along the familiar bramble and forest-filled route. However, this time it was different. The hedges seemed fuller, and covered with black pox that was unfamiliar to me. "The hedges are full this year" his dad announced. "Yes, this year there is a bumper crop. We have to go berry picking," followed Mr P. EEEEKKK! I was so excited. I had never gone berry picking before, and then berry picking at the side of the road? Get out of town!!! (literally)

The next day, Mr P's sister arrived from London. We decided that the day would start off with a round of golf (any excuse), then we would go to the hedgerow near their parents' house to do some berry picking. However, as we were about to pull into the driving range the hedges that cloaked the entrance to the range were also covered by the very treasures we were seeking. After swinging with great expertise we rushed to the hedges to pick away. The spoils were overwhelming, but we didn't stop. We went back to the house, and continued the berry picking there. I made a pie, and packed loads to take back to London to eat with my homemade granola

I gave myself a pat on the back for being such a diligent little eco-buff, for foraging berries and cooking with them. Yet, I didn't think anything of the treasure trove of berries everywhere; I assumed that I had overlooked the abundance in the past. Then I came across several articles and TV programmes on the bumper crops of fruits and mushrooms (that explained why my garden was covered with little mushrooms). This year, Mother Nature presented us with a bountiful harvest in the form of a Mast Year. In addition to mushrooms and blackberries, there were plums and crab apples galore. From pies to jams, from salads to natural dyes, we just had to step outside to gather inspiration.

'Masting', for those of you who did not know prior (like myself), refers to an abundance of forest fruits and nut. Hence, a Mast Year refers to a year when there is an exceptional abundance of these lovely jewels. As I mentioned before, this refers to not only berries, but all vegetation that are naturally growing in the woodlands. So keep an eye out for sweet chestnuts, and mushrooms for this season. And, if you are not in a place to go foraging for these wild things, why not get out of town to somewhere where you could forage with experts. Likewise, you could just use this Mast Year as inspiration for your wardrobe, a DIY activity, or a cool twist on an old dessert...


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