Pick While It’s Not Hot

Posted on April 5, 2009


The last meeting of our edible wild plants class took place on one of these rare, cool spring days before the oppressive heat sets in, bringing out the snakes and making foraging in the tall grass seem like not such a good idea.  We convened up on Mount gilboa-iris3Gilboa, where we were treated to a humbling display of wild flowers – including the famous and elusive Gilboa Iris. 

And with our gaze focused at our feet, we picked wild garlic flowers which we put in our salad, a plant called duck’s foot which made a filling for turnovers, nettles for the soup, and some wild relatives of the arugula family, whose pretty pale yellow flowers were just as peppery-delicious as the leaves. 

One of the group, an intense young archaeologist named Zacki, had driven up from Jerusalem, and stopped on the way in the hot dry Jordan Valley to pick leaves from a plant whose name simply translates as “salty”.  He took those pale green, brittle leaves and

Salty leaves

Salty leaves


fried them in oil, to make the most outrageously delicious chips I’ve ever eaten. 





Zacki, it turns out, has a passionate interest in the agricultural origins of the Jewish holidays. And since I have been immersed in research on wheat as a local food of the Galilee, and since the wheat (and barley) harvest are very much a part of the original observance of Passover, we had much to talk about.

In the Old Testament, there are numerous descriptions of wheat, with specific names for different levels of ripeness, and if the wheat is roasted – or “parched” in many translations.  We were veggies-on-tabun1roasting vegetables on the outdoor stove, and added some of the wild barley and oats that were growing nearby, to no great success.  But I am determined to see the harvesting and roasting of green wheat to make the local Galilee specialty called “fariki”, which is the modern-day equivalent to the parched wheat written about in the scriptures.  This I will document, hopefully in my next entry…