Atelier plantes sauvages et comestibles près de Grenoble
You might have guessed, based on my dandelion recipes (syrup and capers), lilacs jelly, and our participation in a wild edible plants workshop in the Netherlands, that I’m quite interested in edible wild plants. And now that we do more nature walks than we did in the past, this subject is moving even more into our field of interest than before. We were happy to find out that our favourite local farm was hosting a day long workshop around that subject. A perfect opportunity to freshen up our knowledge, learn something more and engage in our local community. I knew that another friend was interested in the subject, so I invited her along as well. She brought another friend along and that way the four of us ended up at la ferme Lespinasse in Montaud last Sunday morning. We were part of a group of sixteen people that had signed up for the course.
We were welcomed by Brigitte and Fernando (and a flock of character birds) at their beautiful farm in the Vercors with an demonstration on how to make infused rose petal water. Brigitte explained how to use the warmth of the sun as a main heating source for the process, and she also explained how you can activate tap water with a hand movement before you bring it in contact with the rose petals.
Peter Paon (the peacock) and Gaspard (the turkey) were trying to get our attention as well during the introduction. I must admit I was quite impressed and intimidated by the greatness of Gaspard. What a bird! I don’t think I have ever seen such a big turkey. You see, I’m not extremely comfortable around birds. I’m not sure why, maybe I watched Hitchcock’s Birds at an too early age. Or maybe it’s because we currently are terrorised by flock of crows, that pick onto their own reflection in our windows. Very annoying and not improving my light bird-phobia.
But Gaspard appeared to be a friendly bird, or so they told me. He just wanted to be petted, when he was showing off his feathers. So soon I got used to the bird and I even dared to pet him. Victory! Also, Gaspard didn’t look that intimidating when he was running away from Peter Paon. Some creatures are definitely more ‘in their power’ when they are not moving too fast. Grounded. I always tell people, that I’m one of those creatures. I probably also run, as disappointingly, as a turkey. We bonded, for a short while at least.
After a short indoor intermezzo, where we learned some basics around the plants that we were going to forage, we moved outdoors. Where we first did some breathing exercises and then moved onto our assignments in groups. We got a list of plants that we had to forage. After that we were supposed to cook something out of them. We didn’t get typed out recipes, but had access to cookbooks and some suggestions. Fun! I like that way of cooking.
Our group was supposed to forage wild asparagus and ground elder buds. We had never used those for cooking or even seen wild asparagus before, so that was a nice learning experience. The farm has access to a big piece of land which they partly use as wild land. It’s kept uncultivated. It was pretty amazing to see what kind of things grow on such a piece of land. It’s almost like a wild kitchen garden. As we were able to forage on their own land, we were sure that we had access to edible wild flowers that for sure weren’t treated with pesticides. Big plus!
Once back indoors, the cooking started. One group was making a consoud beignet, another group was making an île flottante (with duck eggs!) accompanied by elderflower crème anglaise. Our group worked on steamed wild asparagus and pâte filled with ground elder buds, homegrown walnuts, homemade goat milk and soja yoghurt. Ugh, ugh, mouth watering isn’t it. By the time everything was finished, it was lunch time and we got the opportunity to taste everything.
Next to the food we just prepared, everybody was asked to bring something along for lunch. Surprisingly enough, almost everything was vegetarian! Everything tasted great as well, but maybe that wasn’t a surprise. It was also lovely to see how the participants interrogated each other – and us as well – in detail how the dishes were made and what the exact ingredients were.
People are really interested in food here in France, and the whole process of making food. We find that very typical of French people. You don’t see that in the Netherlands, and I also don’t recognise it from Macedonia as well. It was a really nice group of people and during lunch we were able to get to know each other better.
As we were enjoying our meal, the little chicks also had their afternoon bite next to us. We also got to meet the geese. After lunch we started our second and last session. We were introduced to more wild flowers in the garden. The day ended around 17h. It was a rich Sunday in a great atmosphere. Filled with great people, lovely food, new knowledge and animals with an attitude.
Although sometimes it was hard to understand everything, as my french isn’t really good. With some help of Eduard and with a picture book at hand, we could follow a good part of the information. I think it helped that the workshop was very hands-on for the main part.
If you are interested in wild edible plant foraging and are in the neighbourhood, I would definitely recommend you to join a workshop, even if you French isn’t perfect. The price also isn’t a real deal breaker. These kind of workshops can be extremely expensive nowadays, even in France. This one was really affordable. And if you become part of the community of the farm, you will even get a discount.
They also organise other types of workshops regularly by the way and next week they will have an open door weekend! I’ll be waiting for their basket weaving workshop and will join them again for sure.