I have a new foraging hero: my dear old Dad. He walked into the kitchen a couple of weeks ago, sidled up to me with a wry smile on his face, and placed what looked like four small muddy pebbles on the slate counter in front of me.
“Pignuts.” He grinned.
“Pardon?” I replied.
“Pignuts.” He repeated.
“I see.” I said. “What are they?”
There’s a trick with my Dad. In order to get the particular information you require from him, you have to ask the correct question.
This apparently was not it.
“Try them and find out.” Were my instructions.
And then he left.
So I promptly washed, peeled and scoffed all four. Very nice they were too. They almost had the consistency of very fresh, wet walnuts, with a delicately nutty flavour.
Upon receiving word from Pa that such little treats were hiding in our field, I decided that I’d hunt some down to incorporate into canapés for my brother’s birthday barbeque at the weekend.
The pignut is a white umbellifer and is related to ground elder and cow parsley, the main difference (as far as I can tell) being the shape of its leaves. To find the nut itself, you have to dig up the entire plant and rifle carefully through its roots.
After a good two hours’ worth of searching and having overexcitedly dug up far too much cow parsley, I returned home with my beauteous bounty of a single pignut.
Being unable to stretch the poor wee mite to make canapés for fifteen, I washed, peeled and scoffed that one too.