Apr 11 2011

Foraging for dinner, dog in the river

by at 10:52 pm

This weekend at the market, it was quite clear that the season for bear garlic, a popular local specialty, is upon us. (Incidentally, I checked and don’t seem to have blogged the fact I found out last year, that bear garlic’s North American cousin is the most likely candidate for the supposedly “stinky onions” after which Chicago is named.)

On Sunday, we went for a walk along the Venoges river with Ruben, and came across giant patches of it. We thought about stopping to pick bunches for dinner (or, now that I think about it, to dry and save for later) but instead we decided to continue on our way, assuming we’d have the chance to get some on our way back.

Bear Garlic

Ruben is really quite good off-leash, generally sticking near us as we walk, never running too far off, and responding to come almost all of the time. This was the first time we tried walking with him off-leash on a path affording many opportunities for veering off to the water. As we walked, Ruben tempted fate a few times, scooting himself close to the edge of the river, dipping his toes in, but coming running when we called him, at least sooner or later.


After 10 or 15 minutes of this he made a full speed approach, slightly downhill, towards the river. As we called him, and he continued on his merry way, he reached the edge, a foot or two above the water, and next thing we knew, he was in the river. As Jackie called to him I think he quickly turned around—the river wasn’t very deep there—but then he couldn’t climb out because it was too steep. But he did have solid footing, so when Jackie reached him and bent down to grab him, he extended his paws, and was saved.

Back on land, Ruben was sopping wet but totally unfazed, while we were still trying to figure out if we’d just narrowly averted catastrophe or if we had a natural swimmer on our hands. A few steps away we checked out an opening in the forested area around the river, which revealed stunning open fields:




Ruben and Jackie happily frolicked in the sun. Thanks to my phone’s map we realized we were only a mile or so from EPFL, so made our way through the fields, through a small village near EPFL, and to the metro. Quite a nice tour, except we never made it back to the forest for bear garlic! We do, however, still have 3 big bunches in the refrigerator that we bought at the market. Time to make pesto.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Foraging for dinner, dog in the river”

  1. Allisonon 12 Apr 2011 at 12:26 am

    beautiful photos… you look so much like michelle in that last picture! i miss ruben! (you guys too). I wish i could forage my dinner! Also I am in Chicago right now and I did not know it was named after a stinky onion. Smells just fine to me!

  2. SwissGuyon 12 Apr 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Watch out: After the blossom they are no longer edible and taste bitter. Also: only small (early) leaves taste good, the big ones taste bitter too.

  3. Jackieon 15 Apr 2011 at 8:01 am

    I would be interested to know whether by “no longer edible” you mean “taste bitter” or “are toxic.”

  4. SwissGuyon 18 Apr 2011 at 12:36 pm

    No, according to my knowledge it’s not toxic, just bitter. However, it is toxic to certain animals including horses and rabbits (not to dogs, I think). Plus there are other plants that are toxic and that have leaves that look alike: Lily of the Valley, Colchicum autumnale and Arum maculatum (see: http://www.botanikus.de/Heilpflanzen/Barlauch/barlauch.html). Best harvesting season is usually in March.

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