With winter in full bloom in the Middle East (this is when we get rain), urban gardens come alive, whether or not you want them to. The rains and cooler temperatures invite green leafy things to sprout up everywhere. And if you’re into urban foraging, or preserving some old traditions in the region, you might just want to go out and pick them. Take care to give your greens a good wash, because you don’t know who’s been peeing on them.
I’d been foraging for weeds in my backyard (read all about the experience here), and I asked an expert I know, Abbie Rosner from Culinary Tours of the Galilee to let me and readers know which weeds I can eat. Below, I include her answer, and pictures of the weeds which she says are edible. Enjoy!
Abbie writes: Karin – Now that you’ve opened your eyes to the eating potential of all the wild greens around you, you’ll never look at the landscape in the same way again.
In your backyard alone you have three plants that are good for eating.
C is hubeisa (mallow in English, halamit in Hebrew) – gets its name from the Arabic word for bread (hubs) and it is indeed one of the most basic of all foraging foods.
E is ellet (olesh in Hebrew, chicory in English)- also a seasonal delicacy.
And F is stinging nettle which, if you pick carefully, can be used in soup – I’ve also heard of it being used as a medicinal tea.
If you go into your local Arab vegetable stand, you will probably find the ellet, and maybe hubeisa. Ellet has now been cultivated – hubeisa is so abundant that it is still gathered…
Below are the pictures for C, E and F from my previous post. Now, you can get out there and forage for yourselves. Know that you’ll have survival skills if the grim global warming prophecies come to light.
C: This is hubeisa or mallow, in English.
E: This is ellet or chicory.
F: This is stinging nettle. Watch out for the sting!
If you’re already cooking up some weeds, why not make a whole meal? We’ve got tons of Levant area and Middle East cuisine recipes.