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Wednesday, 28 September 2016


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You can also eat dandelions cooked. two recipes that come to mind are in a spinach pie (together with leek and fennel), and with the same company with fish (like salted cod, not very healty but more tasty) or squid.

If you ever run shy on dandelion greens, feel free to stop by my house and pick all you want (in season, of course) !

Wow, that sounds great. I often combine nuts with seeds in salads: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame, etc. And I often include avocado; it adds a wonderfully rich creaminess.

Ice cream for dessert?

It's worrying to see moral qualities assigned to food: good/bad, healthy/unhealthy and the false pride and guilt trips this engenders. Then it's easy pickings for marketers to manipulate us.
Medicine? Just think of food as sustenance, eat as wide a variety as you can deal with and most of all, enjoy.

My grandparents, from San Severo, Foggia called it Cicoria (chicory/dandelion). When I was a kid in Brooklyn, my grandfather would go out and "harvest" it from vacant lots, and the story was that it grew best where it had been watered by the neighborhood dogs...

We put in salads sometimes, but mostly ate it cooked with garlic, olive oil, salt, and red pepper; the same way you'd prepare broccoli rabe (rapini). I was never a big fan of cicoria—too bitter for me; but broccoli rabe has been a staple on my table my whole life. As BH said, "good stuff".

Are dandelions the same the world over? The dandelion leaves I'm familiar with are way too bitter for me. Maybe I should try baby ones.

Have you tried nasturtium leaves? Very peppery.

Food is the best preventative medicine: "Major study of eating habits concludes diet rich in olive oil, fruits and vegetables could cut heart attack and stroke deaths"


I recommend mustard and radish greens, they're equally pungent and delicious.

As long as you stick to young dandelions. The old one in my experience can be tough and strong

Dandelion greens? No thanks.

Dandelion wine, however, is another matter entirely...

Lots of salads, granny smith apples and ground turkey. Now on to something less tastie, but still important.

Tonight's subject is The Democratization of Photography

The North American Eagle, a jet car hoping to go over 800mph, is now at the Alvord Desert. They are documenting their activities with a photo-drone. This video was shot on Sep 28, 2016, and is now on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgvvBrvysw4 A few years ago only TV News could have done this.

What Fashion Photographer Nick Knight is up-to now-a-days. http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/nick-knight-interview-showstudios-drawings "Live streaming, whether to an audience of ten or 10,000, feels exciting. It makes you feel connected so directly to your viewer in a way that was never quite possible with magazines, so on #StyleShootDraw, to have had so many people watching on Facebook Live and following on Instagram was very exhilarating for the whole team. Fashion photography has always been presented as exclusive, even elitist, but to share an insight into what I considered to be the amazing world of fashion felt important to me. It’s the reason I started SHOWstudio—I literally wanted to show people inside the studio.' The times they are a changing!

And now for something very different, but also very relevant. HOW VIDEO GAMES ARE INFLUENCING WAR PROPAGANDA IN SYRIA https://theintercept.com/2016/09/21/in-syria-a-new-style-of-war-propaganda-emerges-influenced-by-video-games/ "The generation that grew up playing modern video games is now making media about war that reflects those influences, including in Syria, where militias are producing sophisticated propaganda films employing tropes from Western popular culture." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQZ0D-_u-2g As I've said before, the times they are a changing.

You did sat open mike. ;-)

The frenchman's tip of the day (What? Me, chauvinistic?) : to dampen a tad the bitterness of dandelions, add a hard-boiled, crushed egg to the vinaigrette, basically making what we call 'sauce gribiche'.

I don't know if you can find that on your side of the pond, but in France we often use a mediterranean variety of salad called 'roquette' which is a bit less bitter/acrid and more spicy than dandelion, but quite akin nonetheless.

Here in the wet tropical New Guinea Islands in the South Pacific (just south -- Rabaul, where I live, is six degrees south of the equator) we just get on with eating the key to health, a huge variety of stuff.
It has been estimated that people in most wet tropical areas routinely subsist on about 250 species of plant and animal life with many more species that get occasional appearances on the plate (or bowl or leaf). It is mostly plant life.
Think about that compared with the lack of variety in the average western diet.
Around Rabaul, one of the big items is greens. Beans, snake beans (up to about 60cm or two feet long), appear all the time and “short beans” (i.e. your regular bean in the west) are available now at something of a premium.
The big variety is in the leafy greens. Someone goes to their garden and harvests a bunch of greens. On the way home, they come across a patch of whatever growing wild, and harvest some of that too. And then there is something else growing, what looks like a weed in a drain at the side of the road; that gets picked as well. And so on all the way home.
Arriving home, they set about cooking a meal which is basically the greens “greased” in coconut, plus a staple, sweet potatoes, cooking bananas, yams, taro, cassava, or (tragically) white rice.
The greens themselves might take quite a lot of preparation. No just grabbing a cabbage, slicing it up a bit and boiling it in its wondrous tastelessness. Many of the traditional and exotic greens require the individual leaves to be stripped off stems. This is true of such popular items as the traditional aibika (i-bee-cah) and kabagap (cab-ah-gap) -- both peppery, the aibika particularly and a bit chewy, the kabagap more like a mild spinach, and the introduced pumpkin and choko tips. They will be cooked in coconut cream which requires a dry coconut (which has fallen to the ground), desiccating the meat by scraping it out of the shell halves, then squeezing the juice out of that.
You load the your sweet potatoes (for example) and coconut into your pot and boil it, adding the greens later. If you have a bit of chicken or fish about, you might throw that in too -- or chop it up small and fry it with snake beans (which you have sliced into small pieces one by one) with a bit of oil, adding water later to make a stew.
A local variation on boiling is the aigir (eye-gear) where you have your greens, particularly aibika, and other ingredients greased with coconut, in a pot and drop in hot stones to do the cooking. Amazingly, this cooks relatively quickly once you have your stones nice and hot and it tastes different from boiling!
Another approach is the mumu -- slow cooking of food with coconut cream wrapped in leaf parcels and buried in hot stones. Again, it tastes different.
In the local market, you can buy a "karimap" (cover it up, leaf parcel) of greens and a staple cooked in coconut for 3-5 kina (US$1-2).
Normally, people at these with their fingers -- they will dip into the soup, gather up a bunch of greens, form them into a ball, then pop that into their mouth to munch on.
All of this preparation takes time, especially when you take into account cooking over a fire. which tends to be slow, and demands gathering of firewood too. But in the wet tropics, there tends to be a fair bit of time. Forty years ago I heard of research that estimated that in an all traditional lifestyle, a man had to work one day in eight to provide food, clothing, and housing for his family. Of course, a “man” meant mostly a woman!
The catholic approach to food inherent in eating such a wide variety of species also means that new species are readily adopted. There are places in the islands where coconuts are relatively new, appearing, either deliberately brought in by people who traveled a bit, or drifting in on the tide, only 100-150 years ago. Coconuts turning up as flotsam is still a very real phenomenon; it happens all the time and people collect and plant them. Chinese cabbage, bok choi, is an addition that came with Chinese immigrant labor 100+ years ago and is now cultivated through the islands from retained seed and seed imported from Australia.
Unfortunately -- from my point of view as an Australian immigrant to the islands -- this also means that “round cabbage” (your standard or garden hearted cabbage) has been accepted as an “exotic” (how can exotic mean tasteless?) addition to the stew and worse, pumpkin and choko tips have become ubiquitous (you need good teeth to eat them, they are somewhat fibrous) and are highly regarded.
Young pumpkin leaves are also used for wraps where your traditional Greek wrap would use vine leaves.
We rarely see the fruit of the pumpkin.
Islanders gape at me in amazement when I tell them that in Australia, we cultivate pumpkins only for the fruit of the vine and never, ever eat the tips and leaves.
A chef at one of our leading hotels is Portuguese, and he tells me he is a total convert to the pumpkin tips/leaves. I can't hack the tips, I really don't have the teeth for them, but I have taken a liking to wraps with the leaves.
Regular lettuce also appears in the market, but with loose, green leaves, not hard balls like Iceberg lettuce. I love a bit of lettuce.
Other introductions include tomatoes, capsicum (bell pepper), spring onions. Was ginger introduced? It grows everywhere, it seems, at least in the lowlands.
Garlic is also appreciated, but it is totally imported from China.
Sweet corn baked on the fire, boiled, or greased in coconut is another introduced favorite. Peanuts, eaten raw, boiled, or baked/fried, are ubiquitous. There are local nuts too, which you, Mike, would weep with envy at missing. Galip and Paua nuts -- such delicate flavors.
In the end, though, the staples are the staples. In the Islands this means root vegetables: sweet potato, taro, cassava, yams, but the biggest single staple is cooking bananas.
Where do these vegetables originate? You will be aware that the source of a species can be identified by it being the point of maximum variety, so potatoes and sweet potatoes are immediately seen to have originated in South and Central American. Oddly, here in Papua New Guinea and the neighboring Solomon Islands, there is the second greatest amount of variation of sweet potatoes on earth with an estimated 5,000+ varieties and cultivars.
How did that happen? No-one knows, but it was a long time ago and there is no obvious bridge between Peru and New Guinea.
Rice is mostly white imported in very large amounts; it is also grown and is officially encouraged at both a village and industrial level as an import replacement. This is pretty sad because both cooking bananas (aka plantains) and sweet potatoes are much more nutritious than rice and furthermore, for the same effort, you get about a third more of them by weight and nutritional value on the table.
An advantage of rice is that it can be stored for long periods. Sweet corn shares this advantage to a degree. Quick and easy preparation is also a feature of both.
A downside of sweet potatoes, bananas, yams, cassava, and taro is their limited storage life, but in the wet tropical villages, that is rarely a problem. Stuff grows all the time and you pick and eat.
Mike, have a look at some of my Kokopo market pictures in my DPReview gallery: https://www.dpreview.com/galleries/5951224179/photos/3448872/16-05-18-p1810590-leafy-greens-coming
Like the piles of greens? :)

Cheers, Geoff

And then there are the cucumbers, eaten raw, munch, munch, munch, munch, not like salad but like fruit. Only trouble with that is the kids love them with Magi chicken flavored salt stuff on them (saving grace: no chicken died in the preparation of that flavored stuff, I am sure). Oranges and Mandarines too, which are green when ripe. And then there are all the local fruits, including sweet, ripe bananas.

Cheers, Geoff

If you blanch the dandelion greens, then lightly stir-fry with Swiss chard or beet greens, maybe rapini, shallots or onion, mushrooms, great side dish for a meal. The dandelions on their own are a bit sour for my taste, but good in a mix.

If you want to pick your own, better talk to an expert first. My parents used to reject the ones I picked but I never really understood what I was doing wrong. I think they're not so good if they're too ripe, but I'm only guessing. Buy them from someone who knows, is my rule.

And it's not surprising that you now like salads. Once you start eating something, you acquire a taste for it. I now find myself rejecting sweets as tasting WAY too sweet. You can condition yourself into anything. I used to spend an hour or more in dangerous highway traffic to get to and from work. Seems like such a bizarre way to live now.

Mike, we have been eating dandelions from our yard occasionally for quite some time. We don't use any chemicals in our yard, which is mainly prairie plants (I haven't mowed a lawn in almost 20 years) and don't get dandelions often and when we do, we eat them. I photographed Dr. T. Colin Campbell for an assignment once at his home in Ithaca near you. Google his name and read his work and it will confirm for you food is medicine.

I'm pretty sure that you won't be eating salads like that in Cuba....

My wife, an amazing cook, frequently includes freshly harvested dandelions (Lion's teeth) in our salads and also cooks them in a variety ways in many dishes.

I'm no cook, so I'm the collector of plant material from the yard and garden.

We eschew chemicals so that we can more safely chew the plants in our yard and organic vegetable garden. So we always have a nice variety of food--including dandelions--during the growing season.


Back home dandelion greens were a spring tradition. We'd have a "mess" of green often from around March (as I recall) when the first began to grow after the winter, until they began to get too tough and bitter in a month or so.

Thanks, evolution! Our ancestors couldn't afford to be nearly as picky as we are about the foods they ate- so we evolved the ability to learn to "like" foods that initially had undesirable flavors... hence the phrase "it's an acquired taste."

Anheuser-Busch actually used to take advantage of this- one of their old slogans, back probably 60-70 years ago, was something along the lines of "Try it 5 times and, then, you'll like it!" Knowing that their beer didn't taste very good, and people would probably be put off by it initially... if they could just get people to try it a handful of times, they'd have overcome that initial hurdle and then people would be hooked. It worked, obviously.

I'm trying to find a picture of it somewhere- a friend's parents have a coaster with the slogan on it in their house, but I'm struggling to find it anywhere on Google Images.

If you steam vegetables, Mike, you should also try drinking the steaming liquid when you are done. That's where all the phytonutrients end up after they have fallen out of the vegetables. I swear that and eating alliums keep colds away. I feel like Popeye after I drink the dark green steaming liquid from artichokes.

Bitter things like dandelions, chicories and artichokes tend to be full of good stuff if you can get past the bitterness. Same with alliums like garlic, onions and leeks. As long as they don't cause problems- my wife has adverse reactions to sulfa drugs and high sulfur vegetables like onions and garlic.

If you're hooked on salads, try the warm variety.

My favourite is to add some fried or roasted tomatoes ( small datterini work really well) along with either dry-fried Halloumi cheese or grilled goats cheese.

The sweetness of a good tomato when fried or roasted goes really well with the slaty cheese.

Plus all your other stuff of course

Perhaps to go with your dandelion greens you can use the dandelion roots to make fizzy pop!

Dandelion and burdock is a traditional English carbonated soft drink drink (did we drink it before carbonation was invented?).


It's related to root beer and sarsaparilla and has a similar but distinct taste.

You can even get it in the US!


And for a photo connection: Martin Parr, in his book The Non-Conformists, has a section on the Lydgate Mineral Water Works (just outside Hebden Bridge) that used to make this sort of drink (amongst others).

Toasted pine nuts in a salad are the best. Who cares if it was a fad in the '80s? They're great. We eat purslane in salads, too; it grows as a weed in our garden. (I had to be convinced to eat it the first time.)

here's one for chicory lovers (the more bitter the better):

shred it rather finely, but not a chiffonade.
add chopped walnuts and dried fruit, or whatever.
vinegar and oil, maybe a little dijon and honey.

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