Taste the Trail – Storm and sour apples

[Do not pick or eat mushrooms/berries/seeds from plants you don’t know! We left some mushrooms because we were not 100% sure they were edible. Marin is a professional forager. Please take care!]

“Look Marin! There, is that a good one?” I’m bending over and with a twig I flip over the mushroom and look at it. No gills, so that means it’s a Boletus and most of these are edible. We feel happy like little Johnny on christmas morning; tonight we are having a mushroom broth from this little mushroom! Add a couple of leaves from a nettle and we’re having a beautiful dinner!

Normally I don’t forage for mushrooms; I have no clue which ones are poisonous and which are perfectly edible, but this weekend I make an exception. Together with Marin from “Groene Avonturen” I will hike for a few days and eat only what we can forage from nature. We will live for three days as hunter-gatherers to see how this works out.

We will hike three stages of the famous Eifelsteig in Germany. But the first night will be at Plooni, who kindly hosts us in the hills of south-east Netherlands. We eat our last meal while the stormy night  blows her breath around the house, rain hits windows and my dreams about the future prepare me for the coming journey. I wake up and have a glass of water for breakfast. The journey begins.

We take the bus from Aachen to Roetgen, where we directly find something to eat. Our ziplock bags are quickly filled with hawthorn berries and rosehip. The rosehip doesn’t really taste good, the maythorne tastes like nothing. Next to the boring taste we know it’s a mild laxative and we don’t really feel like walking with a full underpants so we don’t eat too much from these. Walking out of the village we see a tree with little apples all around it. The storm of the last couple of days has kicked some immature apples out for us to pick up. Our faces are like the face of a child eating a lemon for the first time, when we taste the small apples. We decide they are good for some hot compote in the evening.

Blackberry after blackberry crosses our path as well as hazelnuts. Sadly the nuts are not ready yet and the blackberries are on their end. Or they are really soft or really hard and not edible. We don’t find to much and when we see other people sitting next to the trail eating their lunch we decide to keep on walking. “Don’t look Marin, they have cookies!!” With our mouth full off rosehip we keep on walking and find our first mushroom. A nice big one, perfect for a hot steaming broth! We find a couple more and all of a sudden we find ourselves foraging a whole meal! Our meal contains:

– three and a half mushrooms
– a hand full of nettle leaves
– 15 sour mini apples

Cold and wet we sit in a wooden shack and see the roaring storm pass by. With our cold fingers we bake the mushrooms in a little water and when soft we add some extra water and let it boil for some minutes. Add some nettle leaves and we have a great and simple soup! The first warm sip slides down in my stomach and I feel the warmth going trough me. After a half a liter of soup our bodies are warmed up and we feel it’s time for the next course. Cooked apples. We cut the apples in really small pieces and cook them till they’re soft. We ignore the sour taste and eat like it’s our last meal.

After this simple but warm meal we hike on, in search of a spot for our tent. The best spot would be next to a river, so I can fish or make a fishpod. In my mind I really need fish for some extra protein; some blackberries, apples and mushrooms will not bring us 25 kilometers further. The feeling of hunger is doable, sometimes I hear a pig squealing in my stomach, but I can still ignore this pig inside of me. When we find a bush with some blackberries we eat everything we can find. 10 tot 20 blackberries each and our stomachs are filled. Until 15 minutes later, when the pig starts to squeal again.

We find a nice place on the edge of a meadow, between the trees. The storm is still blowing and the squeaking trees give us perfect protection. The sound of the trees above us, makes us realize the storm is not over yet. Sadly there is no river, so fishing has to wait. For Marin this is her first time camping in the wild. Her little blue tent is thin and I wonder how her first night of real wildcamping will be. Her face in the morning tells the whole story…

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