Around 25 years ago I started reading scientific papers written by various ethnobotanists on the back of the discovery of the traditional Mediterranean diet – people in mountain villages had low levels of cardiovascular disease. The diet is characterised by eating a lot of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds and fish and contains little fat from dairy products and red meat, but rather monounsaturated fat from olive oil and unsalted nuts. Even here in Norway, this is the diet recommended by experts, latest in an article this spring at NRK article in which it’s also suggested that it can also contribute to preventing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer. Nice to know as this is the diet I’ve followed for some 40 years, although using more dairy products than would have been used. Reading those articles, it struck me that one component was missing in recommendations and that is a large diversity of notably leafy green vegetables, something not possible for most people in Norway as, unless you are a forager, this isn’t available. In fact, for most people, vegetables seem to be interpreted as tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, all fruits. One of the first studies I read was Gathered wild food plants in the Upper Valley of the Serchio River (Garfagnana), Central Italy by Andrea Pieroni, published in the journal Economic Botany in 1999. In this study, 133 species belonging to 48 families were documented and over half were plants used for their leaves and shoots. I could also read in this paper about multispecies dishes for perhaps the first time. Notably, in this area a multispecies soup Minestrella with typically 40 different plants was made and a similar 50 species dish, pistic, traditionally made inland from Venice is also referred to (pistic is also referred to in Stephen Facciola’s Cornucopia II). This inspired my own multispecies dishes and, a few days ago, 24th August 2023 was the 20th anniversary of my world record salad with 537 plants which lead to me being called Extreme Salad Man on a Norwegian gardening program Grønn Glede the year after! The importance of leafy perennial vegetables and food diversity, both cultivated and foraged also became the subject of my book Around the World in 80 plants. My main multispecies dishes (with links) made over the years since can be found at the bottom of this post. On 24th August we decided to mark the 20th anniversary of the world record salad by making a pizza with as many plants as possible, although it was a busy week otherwise so I only managed 229 this time, 225 of which were grown in one of my 3 gardens, the onion garden at the Ringve Botanical Garden, the Væres Venner community garden and my home garden, The Edible Garden. It was served to an unexpecting group of psychologists who had booked a garden tour that evening! They were on a Somatic Experiencing mentoring weekend in Malvik (Vennatjønna Levebruk) and they spend the first evening “grounding themselves” in my garden (this was the second visit)! The list of plants can be downloaded under the pictures below from that evening!
To celebrate our good friends’ Jurgen Wegter and Ingvild Haga’s 50th birthdays together with Meg’s 50-year anniversary of arriving in Europe for the first time (in Southampton near where I lived at the time) as well as my 50 year anniversary of leaving school and a memorable holiday with 20-30 school friends in Newton Ferrers in Devon, we made a special gourmet dinner of green mac-cheese. It had masses of veg mixed in – the year’s first broad beans and swiss chard, chicory, common sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), Allium senescens leaves, shallots and garlic from last year, rehydrated winter chantarelles, golpar – ground seed of hogweed – Heracleum spp., together with ramsons salt, chili, sun dried tomatoes and mustard, all in a wholegrain spelt white sauce with wholegrain spelt pasta; it was topped with alpine bistort bulbils). Not to be left out, the Extreme Salad Man contributed one of his Meditteranean diet inspired multispecies salads commemorating it is now almost 20 years since he put together a salad from home grown ingredients in Malvik comprising 537 ingredients. something the world hasn’t seen before or since (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=18997). The record was set on 24th August 2003. This time there were a mere 106 ingredients….sad to see, but he must be losing it…. Thanks to Jurgen for the salad pictures:
Being the focus of an art installation wasn’t something I ever imagined, but since February an installation has been exhibited at the Trondheim Art Museum Gråmølna based on my January winter vegetables and very nicely put together it was too, by a group of international artists working on the Meatigation (get it?) project through the MOREMEATLESSMEAT exhibition. This was designed to stimulate debate on why it is difficult to get Norwegians to reduce their meat consumption in the face of climate change. They visited me in January filmed me harvesting in the cellar, in the living rooms and outside and took away about 30 of my winter vegetables that were then scanned and exhibited with narrative provided by yours truly: JANUARY HERBARIUM For those that don’t know me, I am more or less 100% self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit all year round without using a greenhouse, additional heating or light (we use far less heating than most) and not owning a freezer.
Last Sunday (30th April 2023) between 14 and 16 the closing event focussed on the myth that one cannot avoid importing vegetables in winter here in Norway through the UNPACKING THE EDIMENTALS HERBARIUM event. It was fittingly also the #internationaldayofthedandelion a plant I eat most days year round (forced from roots in winter in my cellar and living rooms). To accentuate that vegetable diversity is possible even in cold Norway in winter, with snow showers outside the venue, at a time of year known as the Hungry Gap (I call it the Full Gap as it really can be the time of greatest abundance!) I (#extremesaladman) prepared my most diverse winter/spring salad ever (and probably anywhere) with 163 botanical species, 199 different plants (including cultivars) and in total 211 ingredients (includes different plant parts, such as flowers and leaves from the same plant). I prepared two different looking salads from the same ingredients! The list of ingredients can be found at the bottom (a list was also hung up on the wall so that the participants could read what they were eating!)
The second salad:
I was asked a series of questions and gave answers supported by various plants I’d brought with me: Allium cernuum (nodding onion / prærieløk) Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) (both are available most of the winter outside) Allium pskemense x fistulosum (Wietse’s onion / Wietsesløk) Allium stipitatum (Persian shallot / Persisk sjalott) Vicia faba (dried broad beans / bondebønner) Beta vulgaris “Flavescens” (swiss chard / mangold) Angelica archangelica “Vossakvann” (Voss angelica / Vossakvann) Taraxacum spp. (dandelion / løvetann – demonstrating dandichokes / løveskokker and dandinoodles / dandinudler)
The questions were: BIODIVERSITY: Why is agricultural biodiversity important? PRESERVATION: Why preserve heritage varieties of edible plants?EMOTION: Why joy, pleasure & humor in food and farming? WINTER: What could we eat in the winter? Preservation & fresh. FUTURE: What could a Norwegian food future taste like if plants were at the center?
There were of course also many questions from the participants about what different plants were in the salads. I mentioned that the salads were originally not just the result of a slightly mad collectomanic’s work in Malvik but also had an important message. My second and still current world record salad was made 20 years ago in August 2003 (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=294). It had been inspired by the Mediterranean diet, where ethnobotanical studies on the back of the discovery of the low levels of cardiovascular disease in people eating traditional diets had revealed a huge diversity of plant species used in the Mediterranean region (over 3,000 species). Not only that, but traditional multi species salads, soups, calzones etc., often with over 50 different species had been discovered – more in my book Around the World in 80 plants). This week just 4 days before the event national broadcaster NRK had published an article once again pointing to the Mediterranean Diet as being the healthiest one! See NRK article.
The previous winter / spring record with 140 ingredients was made for Credo Restaurantat the Kosmorama Film Festival in 2017.
PREPARING THE SALAD ON MY BIRTHDAY The pictures below show me collecting the salad ingredients the day before which was my birthday, what better way of spending the day :)
On the way to the event, waiting at the bus stop with salad and plants as the snow came down!
Pictures from the event (taken by Anne Maisey from TKM Gråmølna):
Many thanks to Liz Dom who lead the event and project leaders Cat Kramer and Zack Denfeld and Anne Maisey from the museum, who took part remotely from Porto in Portugal at the start, for a great collaboration!
I was going to post an album of pictures showing off all the late flowers in the garden this record-breaking mild autumn still without any frost, but as they’re all edible I made a salad instead! There were 33 different edible flowers (see the list below the pictures) plus 30-40 greens and a whopper carrot which I decided to keep whole as a feature! It was cut up when the salad was tossed afterwards. It has a story too as it is one of the Danish accessions rematriated from Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) in the US last winter. I took a few seed before sending the rest on to Danish Seed Savers (Dansk Frøsamlerne). It’s called Kämpe which means Giant in Swedish/Danish (I call it Whopper as it’s probably the biggest/thickest carrot I¨’ve grown here). It’s not a very old variety and SSE informed that it was a cultivated variety originally from the Swedish seed company Weibulls. Anyone know more about it? Salad flowers, all harvested from the garden Salvia (blackcurrant sage / solbærsalvie) Fuchsia magellanica Hemerocallis “Stella de Oro” Taraxacum spp. (dandelion / løvetann) Rubus fruticosus (blackberry / bjørnebær) Papaver somniferum (opium poppy / opium valmue) Viola altaicum Campanula persicifolia (peach-leaf bellflower / fagerklokke) Sonchus oleraceus (common sow-thistle / haredylle) Glebionis coronaria (chopsuey greens / kronkrage) (3 varieties) Daucus carota (carrot / gulrot) (unopened flower umbel) Geranium sanguineum (bloody cranesbill / blodstorkenebb) Brassica oleracea (kale / grønnkål) Oenothera biennis (evening primrose / nattlys) Begonia Malva moschata (musk mallow / moskuskattost) (white and pink flowered) Malva alcea (hollyhock mallow / rosekattost) Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot / rørhestemynte) Monarda “Elsie Lavender” Calendula officinalis (pot marigold / ringblomst (2 varieties) Campanula trachelium (nettle-leaved bellflower / nesleklokke) Calamintha nepeta (lesser calamint / liten kalamint) Tropaeolum majus (nasturtium / vanlig blomkarse) (2 varieties) Pisum sativum (garden pea / ert) Origanum spp. (wild marjoram / bergmynte) (2 varieties) Campanula lactiflora Alcea rosea (hollyhock / stokkrose) Tragopogon pratensis (Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon / geitskjegg)
My dad Harald George Barstow (HGB) sadly passed away on 7th June at 97. A few days later on 11th June I’d scheduled a long-awaited visit from my friend Helene von Bothmer, the Koster Islands Permaculture Queen accompanied by participants on a one day permaculture course on Katy Chada’s farm (I had twice visited Koster but this was Helene’s first Malvik visit). They had asked if I could make a salad for lunch that day, so with my Dad’s loving memory in focus, the salad became a tribute to Dad as well as a welcome to Helene, Katy and the participants. It had exactly 97 ingredients <3 (a list can be found at the bottom of this page)
There’s an H in there (sort of!)
Now some pictures taken during a lovely visit! I hope it isn’t long before our ways cross again Helene!
Sorry for the silence here on the Edimentals blog. I’ve been busy preparing to produce signs and plant labels for the Allium garden and the World Garden as well as working on various KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) projects. However, I had to share the joy of making the first salad where all (25) plants were collected outside in the garden (we’ve been making salads from cellar ingredients all winter). The snow is now gone from most of the garden and the temperature rose to above 5C today which has stimulated a lot of early shooting edibles. No complete plant list, but the salad included various Alliums, Rumex, Dystaenia, Taraxacum, Arabis, Hablitzia etc. The first outside edible flower of 2022 was a Primula veris subsp. macrocalyx.
The Extreme Salad Man has been quiet recently. He was inspired to make this 5th November salad by a 10 year old Facebook memory of a salad he made (last picture below). Like 10 years ago, we¨’d had a very mild autumn (we may have the first frost this weekend). By chance the number of ingredients equalled the number of years I’ve been on this beautiful planet (66). For the recipe with the full list of ingredients (many are perennials), see the bottom of this post. It took less than an hour to forage around my garden and put together!
THE RECIPE or how to make this at home? Harvested first around the living room a few Basella alba leaves, lemony flowers of two Begonias, leaves of the Okinawan spinach (Gynura bicolor), a couple of flowers of blackcurrant sage / solbærsalvie (Salvia microphylla v. grahamii), Ragged jack kale (grønnkål) leaves, leaves of chopsuey greens / kronkrage (Glebionis coronaria), four different perennial kales / flerårige kåls (Brassica oleracea), leaf shoots of Egyptian onion / luftløk (Allium x proliferum), a few leaves of common sow thistle / haredylle (Sonchus oleraceus), perennial rocket / flerårige rucola (Diplotaxis tenuifolia), parsley / persille leaves (Petroselinum crispum), leaves of Chicory / sikkori variety “Catalogna gigante di Chioggia” (Cichorium intybus), berries of black chokeberry / svartsurbær (Aronia melanocarpa), flowers of hollyhock mallow / rosekattost (Malva alcea), flowers of two varieties of hollyhock / stokkrose (Alcea rosea) – black and pink, hedge mustard / løkurt (Alliaria petiolata), mouse garlic (Allium carinatum), two varieties of dandelion / løvetann (Taraxacum spp.) including moss-leaved, flowers of Japan thistle (Cirsium japonicum), leaves of Allium senescens, a few of the last blackberries / bjørnebær (Rubus fruticosus), berries of black nightshade / svartsøtvier (Solanum nigrum), flowers of Allium mairei, flowers and leaves of anise hyssop / anisisop (Agastache foeniculum), flowers of two varieties of hardy Fuchsia / Magellan-tåre (Fuchsia magellanica) “Alba”og “Tricolor”, Autumn olive / Japansk sølvbusk (Elaeagnus umbellata) berries, radish / reddik (Raphanus sativus)flowers and unripe seed pods, flowers and flower buds of mustard greens / sennepsalat (Brassica juncea), a flower of marigold / ringblomst (Calendula officinalis), new shoots of curled dock / krushøymol (Rumex crispus), leaves and bulb of nodding onion / prærieløk (Allium cernuum), flowers of two varieties of nasturtium / blomkarse (Tropaeolum officinale), two varieties of spring onions / vårløk (Allium cepa), a few leaves of two varieties of sorrel / engsyre (Rumex acetosa), flower buds and flowers of chives / gressløk (Allium schoenoprasum), two leaves of chicory / sikkori variety “Rossa de Treviso” (Cichorium intybus) on the edge of the salad bowl, leaves of perennial chicory (Cichorium intybus), leaves of horned violet / hornfiol (Viola cornuta “Alba”), leaves of Rumex scutatus “Silver Shield” (buckler-leaved sorrel / Fransksyre), a flower of a reflowering variety of strawberry / jordbær (Fragaria x ananassa), flower shoot of scorzonera / scorsonnerot (Scorzonera hispanica), seen in the centre of the salad, a flower of Begonia “Double White, a Dahlia (georginer) flower, oca leaves (Oxalis tuberosa), tomato / tomat “Ida’s Gold” (Lycopersicon esculentum), berries of Physalis “Indian Strain”, two varieties of celery / selleri (Apium graveolens), berries of Ribes divaricatum “Worcesterberry”, carrot / gulrot, turnip / nepe and garlic / hvitløk! Put the flowers and other colourful ingredients to one side for the topping, wash, cut (I use scissors) and mix everything else for the main body of the salad, add the salad dressing (olive oil, salt, pepper and vinegar with crushed garlic) and mix, then use the artist in you to decorate the salad!
20 years ago on 19th August 2001, the Extreme Salad (Man) was born when I made my first (of two) world record salads with 363 different plants and 382 ingredients (i.e., including flowers and leaves from the same variety). During last night’s garden tour, the occasion was marked by a 120 plant salad (1/3 the number of the 2001 salad)….and it was tasted by the participants! Although far from the world record, it was probably the fastest made extreme salad as I only had 30 minutes to collect the ingredients and 30 minutes to put it together before the participants arrived! The second picture below shows the only known picture of the original extreme salad!
5 years ago…on the 15th anniversary, I made this salad with my garden helper Josefine Marie Dichmann: