The quid-a-day nosh challenge: Anyone fancy this fungus I found?
Or would sir care to see the entire foraging menu?
The sun has risen on day three of the El Reg Quid-a-Day Nosh Posse's Live Below the Line challenge, and the team's in generally good shape.
I say generally, because we've haven't heard from Toby Sibley since Monday, when he expressed concern that he simply didn't have enough calories stockpiled to make it through the week.
We've been crunching a few numbers to see just how many calories per day we're getting from our diets, and will present the findings later in the week, if we still have the energy.
My own experience of the challenge last year was that it's about now that you really start to miss those little things which make life bearable. For Neil Barnes, it's "cheese and Marmite", although he shockingly declared: "Beer I can live without."
Chris Winpenny, meanwhile, has been battling temptation in the works canteen where he's been obliged over the last two days to eat lunch of lentils or spaghetti from a Tupperware container while colleagues gorge on magnificent spreads of, co-incidentally, lentils or spaghetti, albeit in much greater quantities.
He said: "The thing I miss most is the after-lunch coffee from the adjoining bar. I can smell it as I walk past and explain again to my colleagues the concept of sponsoring for charity and why I won't be joining them."
He added: "Just imagine the Monty Python bank manager sketch where the manager has every last ounce of goodwill squeezed out of him."
Personally, I could really go a bacon sarnie right now, so it's with a Homer Simpson-style drool and groan of "woaaaar baaaacon..." that I present Neil and his missus Anita's dinner last night: "London Particular" split pea/bacon soup complete with chives from the garden:
Mmmm, pond life...
London Particular, with super-aerated sourdough
In case you're wondering, the particularly well-aerated sourdough slices are the result of Neil's attempt to get more bubbles in his bread. He evidently succeeded, but admitted the spectacular apertures make the stuff an unsuitable platform for jam.
Regarding the chives, they're perfectly legit, and last year I too ventured out of the house on a foraging mission. I managed to grab some pamplina (Montia fontana), or "water chickweed" in Blighty lingo, and the village fountain has once again provided a bounteous harvest:
O fount of Pamplina, clearer than glass
Regular readers know I have a penchant for the micological, and while I haven't yet spotted any bog-standard field mushrooms, a foraging mission this morning turned up this nice specimen of the mosaic puffball, known to science as either Lycoperdon utriforme, Handkea utriformis or Calvatia utriformis:
Well, my trusty field guide describes it as "edible, but of no culinary interest". Further investigation revealed that as long as you stick to the white flesh before it starts to turn brown as a prelude to spore production, you're good to go.
As you can see, this example had just started to turn...
Culinary value? We shall see...
But fear not, there's some actual edible food Chez Lester...
...although given the necessity to vary my diet, I slapped some in the frying pan for a nice breakfast platter of scrambled egg and mushroom:
That'll do me
The "no culinary interest" observation comes from the fact that the mosaic puffball on its own doesn't taste of anything much at all. It's perfectly acceptable with eggs, though, and since there are a few more popping up in the vicinity, that's a good result.
On the subject of foraging, I'm obliged to the reader who pointed out that ground elder shoots are edible. I'll keep an eye out then, although I'm kind of hoping I don't find any.
Ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria), as any gardener who's suffered an invasion knows, is pretty well the most pervasive plant on the planet and will, if left unattended, smother your garden, break into your house and use your credit card to buy thousands of pounds' worth of liquid fertiliser over the internet.
It's a chilling thought, and after you've finished panic-buying triffid repellent online, take a moment to sponsor the El Reg Quid-a-Day Nosh Posse right here.
We're obliged to everyone who's so far chipped in for the benefit of Malaria No More UK, but we can't help feeling readers' wallets could do with a little slimming down, in solidarity with our shrinking waistlines. ®