However, this was a view from our window today, after the rainbow, and I swear, I just saw Noah and his ark float by... and we are 300 metres above sea level! Normally we can see as far as the island of Elba 100 miles from here. Now we barely see the neighbours roof!
This weather is ridiculous! I have never experienced a colder or wetter May anywhere, let alone in Italy. Last year at this time we had 35+ degrees, now it's 14! I apologise for the excessive use of exclamation marks, but there are just no words for it. There's so much to do on the land, but I'm just sitting indoors, twiddling thumbs.
Anyway, enough of that. On one of the few brief breaks in the rain, Sunday afternoon, we went for a wee walk along the coast.
And of course there's no such thing for me as just a walk if there's wild food to gather. I've first heard of the many uses for mallow from my buddy Mr.H. I've since discovered there's loads of it growing around here, I just didn't know what it looked like.
Richard Mabey's invaluable pocket guide Food for Free has an interesting recipe, which I modified slightly to test this new food (new to me that is, because alledgedly Horace ate nothing but olive oil, mallow and chicory).
The variety growing wild here is Common Mallow (it's common alright):
It has numereous health benefits and all parts of the plant are edible. It's high in mucus and as a tea relieves coughs. The root of a different species, marsh mallow, used to be used to make the famous confection, which I believe is now made exclusively from sugar. It is also rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C as well as various mineral salts. It can be used externally to treat skin diseases acne, burns and insect bites.
The seeds can be eaten raw as a snack, young leaves and flowers can be added to salads. The recipe I tried is a variant of the Egyptian soup Melokhia:
This is how I did it:
- 500g mallow leaves
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 dried chilli of your preferred strength
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Cook the mallow leaves in the stock for some 10 minutes
- In the meantime mash the spices and oil to a paste in a pestle and mortar, then fry gently in a separate pan for a couple of minutes.
- Add the paste to the soup and leave to simmer for anothe 2 or 3 minutes.
- Serve with bread