I have a confession. I have trouble throwing food away. I blame my mother. When I was a kid my mother used to say, “It’s starting to go bad. You have to eat it.”
So I’d eat it.
It’s not like we were poor. My father is a pediatric cardiologist. We were “well-off” to borrow my mother’s colloquialism. So if a piece of fruit was bad or starting to go bad, you’d think we’d have the freedom to simply toss it.
My mother’s attitudes about food were most definitely passed down to me. Including this near paranoid fear I have of letting food go bad. Not just the food in my refrigerator, any food. Anywhere.
So all these years later I am living in an affluent part of the Hollywood Hills, oh heck, let’s just be honest, every part of the Hollywood Hills is affluent. I’m not saying we’re rich. In fact things are quite difficult financially at the moment. So we’re grateful for a beautiful home in a cool part of Hollywood.
I have probably mentioned that I like to take walks in the wild open spaces of the hills behind my house. I often forage for food in those hills. I have written about the mustard greens I collect every spring several times.
I have this friend. We live in the same town now. But we met and became friends in Santa Barbara, CA, way back in the 1980s.
Not only are we friends, but I would say we are great friends. Despite the fact that months and months and months usually go by before we see each other, though we live just a few miles apart.
Part of this is because we are such great friends there is no pressure to constantly work on the friendship. But the other reason we go so long between visits is entirely my fault.
I swear I love her; top 10 people in the world love her. But I tend to blow her off sometimes. Unconsciously. I am not harboring any beneath the surface ill will– I promise. We are able to laugh about it (believe it or not). But I admit I have stood her up at bars, left her standing out front movie theatres (holding 2 tickets). I even failed to pick her up at the airport once.
That said. Let me lay some groundwork for the rest of my tale.
I live in the Hollywood Hills. My street backs up to some L.A. County conservancy property, which bleeds into Lake Hollywood and the land owned by Department of Water and Power, and culminates in 4200 acres of Griffith Park. That is a lot of wild land in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world.
Which means I have eagles, deer, rabbit, hawks, bobcats, coyote and the occasional rumor of mountain lion as neighbors.
It also means easy access to hiking trails and the peace and solitude that comes from being in nature.
But whenever I hike these hills I find I have an annoying little habit. I am constantly scanning the trails for edibles. I have some tried and true areas where I collect citrus, figs, herbs, cactus fruit, blackberries and wild greens. But you never know when that lone indigenous Blue Elderberry tree will reveal it’s hiding place.
These edibles can be easy to find too, if you know what you are looking for.