orWine Tastings in the Comfort of you own villa or B&B while on holiday in Tuscany or Liguria

To book an informative and fun wine tasting whilst holidaying in Italy or arrange for a wild food walk in your area contact me on tuscanytipple at libero dot it or check out my Facebook page

Total Pageviews

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Off the Wall Wildfood of the Month

Sometimes you just feel plain stupid.  You walk past a plant hundreds, nay thousands of times, before you realise not only that it's edible, it's tasty too and extremely good for you.

There was me yesterday putting the finishing touches to my book, checking through various reference books to see if I missed anything glaringly.  So I picked up a slim volume written by a local guy on the edible greens of the Lunigiana and the Val di Mara, i.e. our local area, and I came across a plant known as Parietaria in Italian (parietaria officinalis).  It looked kind of familiar so I googled it and found out that in English it's called Pellitory of the Wall, which I had never heard of either.  The German name of 'Aufrechtes Glasskraut' didn't enlighten me either.

Then I started reading up on it, and woah!  Not only is that stuff edible, but it has huge health benefits too.  But first I had to go and find one, so I said to Eddie the Beagle, I said: "Eddie, we're on a mission!".  So I put my shoes on, donned my camouflage gear, explorer helmet, butterfly net and hunting rifle, put my trusted hunting beagle on his lead and stepped through my front door into the great wilderness.  It took me a total of about 10 seconds before I spotted the first one simply growing out of our own wall!

and some more:

I looked at the reference book and at the plant... I think they may have taken the photo on my very front door you know, it was a definite match.  As the name suggests it grows along and out of walls.  It's common throughout most of Europe with the exception of Iberia and Britain apparently.  The leaves are maybe 5cm long coming off creeping red stalks and if you look closely at the inconspicuous flowers you'll see the family resemblance: it's part of the true nettle family.

"Now what do we do with Pellitory of the Wall?" I hear you ask.  Well actually pretty much the same as you would with stingy nettles.  The taste is similar too.  Just use the leaves and young shoots and boil them for a side veg, add them too soups or risottos or any other way you'd use green veg for.  A Torta di Verdura, vegetable tart would be nice too I reckon.  It has a mild flavour, but it doesn't fall apart too quickly when cooked.

And as for health benefits?  To quote from my own book:  "This plant has long been valued as an excellent diuretic, increasing urine production to clear the system.  Combined with stingy nettle the effect is increased.  Drink an infusion of 2 tablespoons of dried herb per litre of water 3 times a day or make an infusion and take 40 drops three times a day.  This  is helpful to combat metabolic illnesses, including obesity, diabetis and cellulites, rheumatic illnesses, such as gout and arthritis, illnesses of the urinary tract, including gallstones and kidney stones as well as renal inflammations and cystitis and illnesses of the circulatory system, such as high blood pressure and water retention.  Externally is used as a wound dressing as disinfectant."

We shall gather a whole load and dry some.  Cousin Bart has some arthritis and maybe it'll help him some.  The only word of caution, Pellitory is one of the main contributors to hayfever when in flower.  If you are a sufferer it maybe wise to avoid direct contact, i.e. let someone else do the picking.  Even I got a slightly sniffly nose yesterday when cooking with them and I don't normally suffer allergies at all.


Susanne, Slitage.dk said...

Oh, Heiko ...
If you run out of Pellitory of the Wall, pls. don't hesitate to go to Serrapiana to pick ours!!!

Your more than welcome, there's lots and lots!!


Heiko said...

Thanks Susanne, I'll bear it in mind! :D

becky3086 said...

You can look up almost any herb or wild plant and come up with as many "health" benefits. Some of them are real and some of them aren't. Interesting though as I have never heard of this plant.

Stefaneener said...

Well, that was convenient. I was noticing the wild foods on my hike yesterday but didn't fancy harvesting thistle to juice : )

I wonder if ingesting would lower or increase your susceptibility to it as an allergen?

Nicole said...

It really is an off the wall wildfood! It is growing out of the wall next to where we parked when we came home. So good to know the benefits, I shall definitely gather some for my and my husband's mum.

We had a lovely time today and I look forward to when we can meet up again!

Heiko said...

Becky, true many health benefits are old-wives-tales, but other things are undergoing clinical trials. The health benefits of nettles have long been documented and since is just a nettle without the sting, I tend to think that it may well be useful. None of these things are miracle drugs of course.

Stefani, that's a good question. In the case of pellitory, it's the pollen people are allergic to, so a plant harvested before flowering should have no effect one way or the other, but that's only my theory.

Nicole, the pleasure was all ours. Any time you're across the valley, do pop in. Keep in touch.