Sometimes we get so locked into a way of seeing word in our minds and/or processing them in the same way that altering the perception can take some doing. Thus it is that for some time now whenever I have seen the words tree nuts in a recipe, I have been thinking they were some delight known only to parts of the USA. Ha ha the laugh is on me as tree nuts are literally nuts from trees, so in the recipes any nut-from-a -tree would be acceptable. Someone obviously brought this term into use as opposed to listing the names of nuts. For anyone thinking all nuts come from trees...nope... peanuts ( which we know are not nuts but a legume ) do not.
I could delve further into what defines a nut ...when is it a nut and not a drupe?
Something about that word I love! Instead see link below FMI (for more info)
I have often written about the bounty of figs in sunny Southern Portugal and how much they are consumed in this house BUT until 2 weeks ago I had never thought of using the leaves - other than for sitting under for shade. The leaves do however have health benefits and therefore are now an essential ingredient in the morning juice. I have read they taste of coconut but to me they taste and smell of toffee. There are cooked recipes using them but this is of no interest to me as I want them fresh and full of chlorophyll.
The leaves are anti diabetic and triglyceride lowering at the very least!
So how come we don't normally think of using leaves off the trees we collect the fruit from? Vine leaves possibly being the exception, as most are aware of these as a wrapping for cooked foods. I have started investigating this and it appears for example, that orange leaves are edible. The warning with the information is to consider where the tree has grown and how it has been fed. As the leaves will contain any atmospheric toxins and also any coming from the ground.
I had a brief look at a library book whilst on a recent trip to the UK ( I can read the ones in there!) which pushed my thinking into the edible leaves aspect. I don't think it actually mentioned fig leaves, but certainly many wild edibles which happen to be leaves. I realised that much of what grows from the ground around me in the Spring is all edible, and this applies to the UK too. Of course putting the strong health making greens into juices is the best way of taking the bitterness that works so well on the liver et al ; )
Fig leaves happily are available for free from any fig tree...if you don't have one maybe your neighbour does. I use only 4 a day so they will not miss this amount ( of course you will ask nicely first I know this!) Strictly speaking where I live it is not necessary to ask as there is no law of trespass...however as I was born and bred in politey blighty I would not take without knowing it was okay.
I'm a paragraph.
Seguing sweetly into foraging now, which technically taking from your neighbours or park trees can be classified as....I can't recall the name of the UK book I saw but there are several out there to guide us.
The Forager Handbook by Miles Irving is getting good reviews. I like this quote from him
“What I hope to communicate through this book is how integral foraging is to our make-up. Anyone who spends a little time learning to find and use wild food will soon understand what I mean: this is not an aspirational lifestyle choice, but a return to an ancient way of life that is part of who we are… What we have lost is the culture that gives a framework to these old ways and a vehicle for passing on knowledge of local plants and their uses…The plants are still here, and we are still here. Put people back in touch with the plants, and the old relationship will revive…We shall soon find new ways of harvesting, stewarding and using these plants, and, in so doing, create a brand-new foraging culture in our time and in our land.”
What he says is backed( coincidentally ) by Annie Hawes in her book Journey to the South.which I am currently reading. Writing in 2005 of her Italian mother in law Francesca
" I defy anyone to take Francesca anywhere she will not find something to eat. Barren rocks, concrete jungles ...it makes no difference, within minutes she will be gathering something - or- other, nibbling away at some edible leaf or fungus or berry or what- have -you. " This being standard Italian country dwelling practice.
From my own stater forager stance it makes walks oh so much more interesting...never just a walk any more but a spotting expedition.