Tag Archives: Denmark

Seven Vegetable Dishes

In Denmark’s major ethnobotanical work, Brøndegaard’s Folk og Flora (1978-80), ground elder (skvalderkål; Aegopodium podograria) is one of seven different greens used in a once common health-bringing springtime dish, skærtorsdagssuppen (skærtorsdag=Maundy Thursday) and I included this in my book as a number of perennials were among the ingredients as they are at their best around Easter when this dish was served:
The number 7 is considered lucky in different cultures around the world and is often seen as highly symbolic. This Danish dish is related to the northern England dish Dock Pudding, which has very similar ingredients (see Easter Ledge Pudding in my book Around the World in 80 plants).

After my book was published I came across another seven vegetable dish from Japan, nanakusa, which contains an unusual mix of edible plants (see the first slide below – from my talks over recent years) including perennial Oenanthe javanica (seri) and as fate would have it, on my study tour to Japan, organised by my friend Aiah Noack, I was taken to a farm where they were actually producing several of these herbs (pictures below). Greenhouses full of common chickweed (Stellaria media; vassarve) was a sight I won’t forget easily! Today, 7th January, is the Festival of Seven Herbs or Nanakusa no sekku (Japanese: 七草の節句) and is the old Japanese custom of eating seven-herb rice porridge on this day. 

Oenanthe javanica (seri) greenhouse production (right) in Japan and edimental cultivars of seri available in Europe (left)

As I was writing this I wondered if there were other seven herb traditions  out there and, right enough, a quick google search revealed two others (please let me know if you know of others):
Seven vegetables on the seventh day of the Chinese New Year is eaten for luck and health, a tradition perserved by the Teochew or Chaoshan people in Southern China. The following five vegetables must be included, the other two are flexible: celery, garlic, green onions, coriander and leeks.
Seven vegetable couscous: Seven is a lucky number in Jewish tradition and a dish featuring seven vegetables is a New Year favourite among Sephardic Jews (early autumn). A recipe can be seen here: https://theveganatlas.com/seven-vegetable-couscous

 

Around the world in 80 Alliums

Yesterday, I gave my first talk about my (second) love of onions (alternative title All you wanted to know about Alliums but were afraid to ask!)….fittingly in the nursery with I believe the best selection of Alliums being sold as foodplants in Europe if not the world , my friend Aiah Noack’s Naturplanteskolen just outside of Copenhagen. Aiah is the author of an excellent book Fantasilater (fantasy salads), only in Danish so far which also includes several Alliums. My book Around the World in 80 plants mentions some 45 Allium species!
In a little over 2 hours I covered about 66 of the world’s cold hardy onions and over 80 if we include cultivars and subspecies…
Other onion related topics were also covered, such as “grow your own fireworks and Xmas decorations”, “Allium as a dancing partner”, the Allium microphone (Alliomike) and the garlic scape armband to keep “wild” animals, trolls and mosquitos away (Transylvanian Garlic keeps vampires away too)… It was a fun afternoon with yet another great group of edimentals fans! ;) 

The video  is of one of my pictures about drying Persian Shallots with a shot of my drying racks over my wood burning stove. Someone noticed that you could actually see heat rising through the racks!!!! (a wood burning stove was on behind the projector) ;)

The perennial self-fertilising vegetable gardens of Langeland

Having completed my course at Naturplanteskolen and guided walk at Grennessminde in August 2016, I was “rewarded” by being taken on a botanical excursion to the island Langeland. These pictures were taken at the north tip of the island which had a luxurious seaweed fertilised vegetation of some familiar perennial vegetables! Thanks to Aiah Noack of Naturplanteskolen :)

Lars Westergaard’s legendary Danish nursery!

Most people into permaculture in Scandinavia know of Lars Westergaard’s nursery in Denmark as one of the best sources of a range of hard to get (and unique, from Lars’ own selection work) fruit and nut trees. Lars has been  working with production of organic plants for many years and commercially since 2009.  It seems much longer! He specialises in walnuts, heartnuts, hazel, sweet chestnut, peach, mulberries, figs, haskaps and many more! I’ve been wanting to visit for some years and an opportunity finally arose after I’d given a couple of courses near Copenhagen in August 2016. It was a pity that Lars was “distracted” by several customers during  our visit, so we didn’t have too much time to talk together…..but I was impressed by what I saw. Thanks to Aiah Noack for taking me…and looking forward to his plants becoming available in Norway soon :)

The nursery page is here:  http://www.westergaards.dk

Danish walk down the Homla canyon

On the 2nd day of the Malvik permaveggies course, we walked the Homlastien (path along the mighty Homla river) from the waterfall down to the station at Hommelvik! As always it takes longer than expected and my estimated 4 hours became 6-7 hours with all the stops!
See the pictures here:


http://www.edimentals.com/pictures/index.php?/category/115

Danish invasion of Vennafjellet

On Sunday of the Danish Malvik permaveggies course, we drove to near the top of the closest mountain from home to see the views and the rich flora: Vennafjellet (Faseknippen) and walked over to Baklifjellet
Please feel free to add names to plants and people!

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See the whole album here: http://www.edimentals.com/pictures/index.php?/category/114