Foraging, I: the Christmas tree branch

I was walking on the street on the 21st of December (and yes, I do write way after the fact), reflecting on the fact that the idea of winter solstice was fabulous: after that night, the days would be getting longer, the nights shorter, and eventually the weather would get warmer… and then my eyes noticed a branch on the floor.

I was standing outside a garden/flower shop, so I figured it must have been trimmed off a Christmas tree. And then I remembered what my grandfather used to say:

Lo que a mi casa viene, es porque me conviene.

(“Whatever comes to my house does so because it’s convenient for me”)

So I picked it up, and placed it on my bag. I did not know WHAT I’d do with it, but I suddenly felt inspired by this impromptu urban foraging.

I had The Idea later, while on the Tube: I’d turn the branch into a “wild bouquet”, to act as the central decoration for our winter solstice celebration.

Foraged tree branch
This branch was going to become a bouquet…

Now, I had never celebrated such a thing before, but it sounded just right: it’s factual and way more real than celebrating a weirdo bearded guy you don’t know is coming down your chimney to place things you don’t need in your living room 😜

I washed the branch as it was all soiled, and hung it upside down to let it dry. Then I started trimming and arranging the bits to make it look nice, trying out all sorts of decorative pots and jars we have around. This can be quite an absorbing process and make you be late for other things—like actually cooking the food for the celebration! 😂

Picture of a foraged wild bouquet (with tree branches, chocolates and tangerines)

A couple tangerines and a few chocolates provide contrast and also make it look pleasantly abundant, like a proper winter solstice feast.

And on to cooking! I was excited to cook the “No-chicken soup” from Anna Jones‘s “The modern cook’s year”. It had been my gift on my office’s “Secret Santa”, and I couldn’t wait to try out some of the recipes, as they looked so nice!

Here’s our table looking festive:

Winter Solstice table: no-chicken soup, sourdough bread with butter, and smaller bowls with various snacks

The soup was comforting and very filling (although I think I’d use less lemon juice next time—not a big fan of lemon on soups). I also toasted and buttered some really sour sourdough bread I had made that week. And to make things even more confusing, I put lots of different snacks on small bowls; a bit like Japanese food. In fact, so much so that there was even pickled ginger in one of them. I like mixing things up (to my partner’s great confusion! 😏).

I liked the feeling of making something out of scraps, things that other people throw away or just ignore. And this opened the door for the next foraging episode, of which I’ll tell you more… soon.

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