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Angela
08-07-14, 20:56
Hunting and gathering have not at all disappeared from modern Europe, even if farming is, and has been, the major subsistence life style of choice in Europe for thousands of years now, as was alluded to in a far more serious thread. However, it has no correlation whatsoever, in my opinion, to the amount of WHG that modern Europeans possess. That post actually brought to mind a post I wrote quite a long time ago for a blog about Italy. In it, I described the “hunting and gathering” activities, although I didn’t refer to them in that way, in the area I know best, the region comprised of northwestern Tuscany and eastern Liguria, an area where the people probably have a paltry 15-16% WHG contribution! I thought it might amuse or at least interest some of you as a bit of armchair traveling, and as a break from sometimes headache inducing genetics analysis.


"As to hunting, the men are manic, obsessed hunters of any even remotely edible animal. Our local English expats (we are becoming an outpost of the Chiantishire of more southerly areas of Toscana) constantly bemoan the fact that we have so few songbirds. Alas, they are no match for our hunters, and have been pursued almost to extinction. They end up in tasty dishes much like the celebrated polenta e osei of northeastern Italy. I will spare the feelings of some of our more queasy readers and just post the link to a picture of this dish. The birds are so small that they must be eaten whole, bones, beak, and all. I was present when a dish much like it was brought to a table where some English people were dining with locals. One woman, I swear to God, passed out and fell to the ground as if she’d been felled with a sledge hammer, and another one had to hold a napkin to her mouth and run from the table! It was quite a scene. (In the interests of total disclosure, I must admit that I never order it. However, I’ve seen my male relatives eat them, usually picking them up by their little legs.)

http://www.komitee.de/sites/www.komitee.de/files/images/P1050875.jpg

It goes without saying that they hunt quail and wild rabbit and larger birds, but they also continue to hunt the much more dangerous wild boar. In fact, some of our signature dishes, and some of my own favorite dishes in the whole world are pappardelle al cinghiale, cinghiale in umido, and cured cinghiale sausage.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-v7qCXg8kOGk/TyO-rki6H9I/AAAAAAAAAE0/Y7hiAlPdt_g/s1600/S73F4413.JPG

http://www.ideericette.it/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/particolare-spezzatino-di-cinghiale-in-umido.jpg (http://www.ideericette.it/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/particolare-spezzatino-di-cinghiale-in-umido.jpg)


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-v7qCXg8kOGk/TyO-rki6H9I/AAAAAAAAAE0/Y7hiAlPdt_g/s1600/S73F4413.JPG (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-v7qCXg8kOGk/TyO-rki6H9I/AAAAAAAAAE0/Y7hiAlPdt_g/s1600/S73F4413.JPG)


We also draw heavily upon what grows wild in the fields and forests.

On his blog Wandering Italy, James Martin recounts an incident on a road in Italy when he was stuck for what seemed like hours because of a huge accident ahead of him. In addition to exiting their cars to chat with their similarly trapped neighbors, he saw a steady stream of people heading up into the fields and woods with sharp knives and baskets in hand. Eager to know whether there was homicide afoot, he followed them. They were looking for edible plants! You can always find something good to eat if you have the appropriate skills.

In the spring, young dandelion leaves make a tasty if astringent fresh salad when mixed with hard-boiled eggs. You can throw in some pancetta and croutons too, or wilt the dandelions in olive oil and garlic, poach some eggs in the same skillet, and top with grated cheese. That takes care of a few food groups.

http://italianhandful.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/poached-eggs-in-dandelion-greens.jpg

Many of our signature stuffed pasta dishes and savory tarts contain wild borage, campion, nettle, dandelion, wild radish leaves and other wild herbs whose names in English I don’t know. They are used only when the leaves are very young, and are added to chard, cheeses, breadcrumbs etc. to make fillings for dishes like pansoti and our savory vegetable tarts:

http://static.flickr.com/84/254084324_912f2ed0f9.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oofFbrZac48/ThNeMaEa4VI/AAAAAAAAAD8/5Hl2kd0qnrE/s1600/02072011242.jpghttp://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oofFbrZac48/ThNeMaEa4VI/AAAAAAAAAD8/5Hl2kd0qnrE/s1600/02072011242.jpg (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oofFbrZac48/ThNeMaEa4VI/AAAAAAAAAD8/5Hl2kd0qnrE/s1600/02072011242.jpghttp:/1.bp.blogspot.com/-oofFbrZac48/ThNeMaEa4VI/AAAAAAAAAD8/5Hl2kd0qnrE/s1600/02072011242.jpg)


True story, I heard one of our visitors say, after it was explained to him what was in the torta d’erbe he had just eaten, and enjoyed, by the way, “ I never thought I’d like a pie made out of grass and weeds.” Well, it’s by far not just grass and weeds, but I understood his point.


Our detractors, of whom there are many in other regions of Italy :), say that Ligurians make so much use of these kinds of foodstuffs because they are so incredibly….thrifty. That’s not the word they use, but no matter. :( I think there’s probably some truth to that as I have a few relatives who I think probably have the first lire they ever made buried under some plaster or stonework somewhere, but it’s also a question of “needs must”. When you live off such a poor, if beautiful, terrain, you have to use all the resources at your disposal. There’s also the fact that the men were so often seamen, and they came home with their bodies pining for greens and fruits.

The fall brings our beloved mushrooms. Virtually everyone goes out to their favorite (and secret) locations to pick them for home use or to sell to the restaurants in the area. They make for wonderful eating fresh, or dried for use throughout the year. We put them in many of our dishes. Pharmacies in the area all provide a service where they can tell you if what you have picked is safe to eat. The really old people rarely bother; they can tell by the look and the smell of the mushrooms.
http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs150/1102467033397/img/176.jpg?a=1111597566714

When the tourists get into the act, it can seem like a Shriners’ convention out there: http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs150/1102467033397/img/176.jpg?a=1111597566714


Be advised before trying it out yourself that you need to carry a walking stick of some kind to poke around in the underbrush before you approach, because we do have venomous snakes.

http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs150/1102467033397/img/176.jpg?a=1111597566714

There are even informal contests as to who has found the biggest ones, and it always makes the local papers. Of course, they never tell you precisely where they actually found it.

This brings me to that incredibly expensive, but extraordinarily delicious fungus, the truffle. Truffle hunting is an absolute mania wherever they are to be found, in France as well as in Italy. People come to blows with “poachers” onto their “secret” locations. Both dogs and pigs are trained to hunt for them. I could swoon just thinking of my favorite ways to eat truffles. How much do I love thee, dear truffle? Let me count some of the ways:

With polenta and eggs?
http://ricette.donnamoderna.com/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/images/ricette-importate/primo/polenta/aromatica-con-uovo-al-tartufo-di-acqualagna/piatto-pronto-tovaglietta-arancione/33043081-1-ita-IT/piatto-pronto-tovaglietta-arancione_dettaglio_ricette_slider_grande3.jpg


In pasta dishes?

http://www.enotecasanpietro.com/immagini/piatti/640_1243106519_Pennette_alla_norcina_con_tartufo.J PG

Truffle risotto?

http://www.lidiasitaly.com/images/recipes/truffle_risotto_940_f.jpg

Alas, some decisions are just too difficult.


Here is a truffle hunter extraordinaire with his trusty canine assistant: such trained animals are very expensive indeed.

http://stowawaymag.com/files/2013/04/truffles-0911.jpg

And then we come to the humble chestnut, without which the people of the Lunigiana, at many times in their history, could not have survived. My sainted, dearly beloved, now deceased, great-aunt (who lived to the age of 96 despite a life of much hardship) used to say that she ate so many of them during the war years that once it was over she never ate anything made with them ever again. Most people do eat them, in an infinite variety of ways. We have sagras totally devoted to eating products made from them.

Of course, when fresh they’re roasted. The fresh or dried version can be boiled, often in milk.
My mother often made a sort of soup for my lunch on cold, winter days that was made of chestnuts boiled in milk, sugar, and some lemon and/or orange peel . (Be advised, it’s fattening, so a little goes a long way.) That, or rice soup made in the same way. The men are known to sometimes add a shot of alcohol if it gets really cold.

The chestnut “soup” looked a lot like this, only not so many chestnuts:

http://ricette.donnamoderna.com/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/images/ricette-importate/primo/minestra-e-zuppa/minestra-di-riso-latte-e-castagne-2/piatto-pronto-tazze-cucchiai-castagne/53617231-1-ita-IT/piatto-pronto-tazze-cucchiai-castagne_dettaglio_ricette_slider_grande3.jpg

Dried and ground into flour, they then produce bread, pasta , “pancakes”, and cake.

http://ricette.donnamoderna.com/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/images/ricette-importate/primo/minestra-e-zuppa/minestra-di-riso-latte-e-castagne-2/piatto-pronto-tazze-cucchiai-castagne/53617231-1-ita-IT/piatto-pronto-tazze-cucchiai-castagne_dettaglio_ricette_slider_grande3.jpg

We call it Marocca bread because it’s so dark. To be honest, I’m not very fond of it. I find it too sweet as an accompaniment for regular food:

http://www.foresteriamuraglione.com/marocca_c.jpg

Pasta: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_DLX1H7d5IO4/TL31wzrjcaI/AAAAAAAABaE/AZk3RsMEgrI/s1600/Tagliatelle+di+Castagno+con+Zucca+e+Anacardi-1wm.jpg


Cake: http://www.discoveritalia.it/images/content/schede/1556.jpg


I like the chesnut flour pancakes, often served with a soft, fresh, local cheese and some of our honey, much better:

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/236x/c8/90/a8/c890a80c0e9b9b2572843c90dd520bc4.jpg

The dried version, that we call gussoni, are also delicious, in my opinion, as a snack, although when I gave some to a dentist friend of mine, he said they should be banned as they are guaranteed to crack your teeth. I ignore him, and continue to eat them, just as I continue to eat rock hard torrone. You just have to suck on them for a while to soften them up. (I will admit, however, that when my baby teeth started to wobble, my mother would give me a few gussoni to eat .:) It's better than the string tied to the door technique, I think.)

http://www.terrecasentinesi.it/public/castagne_secche.jpg

You can see the tools you need to break off pieces from the traditional torrone blocks! The packaged “soft” torrone is for sissies!

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3V7yXIPSX34/TnvotuEc5LI/AAAAAAAAHDA/U_62jmkoRzg/s1600/Torrone-San-Gennaro-Feast.JPG

Then there’s the pinoli nuts which do grow on trees, to which you can add some wild marjoram, grated cheese and olive oil and make a pesto for your pasta or fish, and did I ever tell you all how much I love what Italian-Americans call pignoli cookies?

http://lasvegasfoodadventures.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/pignoli21.jpg

I could go on and on, but I won’t, you’ll be pleased to hear.:)


I’m sure there are similar recipes from all over Europe. In the past, you used all your resources to survive, and useful recipes were used for hundreds if not thousands of years.

And now I'm off!

Fire Haired14
09-07-14, 04:57
Most of Baltic Europe was still hunter gatherer country until the middle ages, that may be part of the reason they have the highest WHG in Europe. The Sami people still don't farm, they just herd reindeer, and that was an adaption they made in historical times. The modern ethnic groups in the east Baltic Finno-Urgics and Balto-Slavs though obviously arrived after the Mesolithic, and have big chunks of farmer ancestry.

LeBrok
09-07-14, 08:07
Most of Baltic Europe was still hunter gatherer country until the middle ages,. I have no idea why you would say that? I can assure you they were overwhelmingly farmers. You know that just because one hunts sometimes it doesn't mean one is hunter-gatherer.

LeBrok
09-07-14, 08:12
@ Angela. Great and delicious story Angela. My Hunter-Gatherer is always coming out when I eat mushrooms. Love them all, the edible ones of course, to the degree that I don't have a favorite one.

PS. Some pictures are not matching the story, in truffle hunting section, and some links are broken.

Fire Haired14
09-07-14, 09:08
I have no idea why you would say that? I can assure you they were overwhelmingly farmers. You know that just because one hunts sometimes it doesn't mean one is hunter-gatherer.

The 2008 book 'Mesolithic Europe" is my source,. I got that info from a section about the Baltic region. According to the book almost all of the Baltic coasts and Scandinavia(none-Germanic) adopted farming during or after the middle ages, and that the Sami people's only upgrade from hunter gatherer occurred in recent times when they became reindeer herders. There must be some type of explanation as to why these ethnic groups in northeast Europe have so much farmer ancestry despite traditionally not being farmers.

Ancient mtDNA from a group of hunter gatherers in Karelia prove there were true hunter gatherers(by blood) still living in Europe as recently as 3500YBP. Two of the mtDNA samples were U4a1, and a perfect HV1 match with a modern U4a1 sample from Norway(on FTDNA) proving at least some of the hunter gatherer ancestry in the Baltic region today is native.

Aberdeen
09-07-14, 22:03
Mmmm - truffles! I've only had them fresh a few times. They are available here in Canada at a very high price, but pickled, in bottles and of course the taste is nothing like the same.

Some of those traditional Italian foods look very tasty. There are a fair number of Italian immigrants here in Canada, and some of them have preserved some of the traditional recipes but of course without access to a lot of the original ingredients, the dishes you can get here in Italian restaurants or at the homes of Italian friends are probably not much like the original version. And who has time for all the labour intensive work involved anyway. And of course there is not one Italian cuisine - it varies greatly depending on what part of Italy the people came from, and that seems to be true of food in other European countries - recipes are very specific to small regions in many cases. But a lot of the food traditions seem to wither away fairly quickly once people leave Europe. Part of the problem may be that a lot of the traditional knowledge about wild herbs and eatable wild plants isn't really relevant to the new landscape. That can be especially true with mushrooms. Here in Ontario, we have a kind of wild mushroom that looks a lot like a chanterelle, but it's very poisonous and in fact is called the Avenging Angel. Not a good thing to put in your steak and kidney pie. When I was growing up in the country, we used to gather wild nuts and berries and some wild herbs, but we generally left the wild mushrooms alone, except for the puffballs and morels.

FrankN
10-07-14, 09:48
Many of our signature stuffed pasta dishes and savory tarts contain wild borage, campion, nettle, dandelion, wild radish leaves and other wild herbs whose names in English I don’t know. They are used only when the leaves are very young, and are added to chard, cheeses, breadcrumbs etc. to make fillings for dishes like pansoti and our savory vegetable tarts.

I don't know if Bishop's Weed (Aegopodium podagraria) is among those other wild herbs whose names in English you don’t know. Anyway, collected in the city's parks, it is said to have carried quite some people in Hamburg over the hunger winter of 1945/46. We have a lot of it (much more than we would like to) in our garden, and are preparing it once or twice each spring. It is similar to spinach. We either do it "Italian style", in a Lasagne mixed with tomatoes and white cheese, or a bit more northern, as pancake fill. You can fry the pancakes in advance, then roll them up filled with Bishop's Weed (already sauted with onions) and some cheese, and grate it all in the oven. From stinging nettles, you can prepare a tasty soup (add a few potatoes, maybe some smoked ham or sausage, if you want it to become thicker and richer). Dandelion is commonly used in salads, the root is an important ingredient of bitters. Wild borage is called "Gurkenkraut" (cucumber herb) in German, a name that speaks for itself.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aegopodium_podagraria

Mushroom collection in the autumn is of course popular in Holstein as well (no truffles, but a number of other quite tasty varieties). We did it once, but my wife didn't want to continue out of fear we might pick some poisonous ones (you need to be quite an expert in this respect, and you can't learn it from experience). These two are edible - Parasol, and Täubling (Russula ochroleuca):
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d3/Macrolepiota_procera_fungus%2C_Woodfidley%2C_New_F orest_-_geograph.org.uk_-_261237.jpg/180px-Macrolepiota_procera_fungus%2C_Woodfidley%2C_New_F orest_-_geograph.org.uk_-_261237.jpg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/23/Russula-ochroleuca-taubling.jpg/320px-Russula-ochroleuca-taubling.jpg

And this is the infamous death cap (Amanita phalloides):
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4a/2011-10-26_Amanita_phalloides_%28Fr.%29_Link_177883.jpg/320px-2011-10-26_Amanita_phalloides_%28Fr.%29_Link_177883.jpg

Fruit and berries collected include forest strawberries, blackberries (lots of!), sloe, whitethorn, rose hips, and elderberry. Aside from eaten fresh, they are used to prepare juices, jams and jellies (including the typical North German / Scandinavian "Rote Grütze"). They are also used for making liqueurs. Especially sloe liqueur is very tasty - obviously not only in my opinion, because when we set out to collect them in late autumn, we typically find most bushes already harvested by somebody else. Btw, according to Wikipedia, the stomach of Ötzi, the "Iceman", contained sloe residues.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rote_Gr%C3%BCtze

Elderberry flowers, and woodruff ("Waldmeister") are traditionally used to prepare syrup. The syrup, mixed with white wine, sparkling whine, or (sourish) Berlin white beer ("Berliner Weisse"), is a popular spring and early summer drink. Of course, you can nowadays buy woodruff syrup, since a few years also elderberry flower-flavoured sparkling whine, in every supermarket, but many people in the countryside still prepare such syrups at home.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galium_odoratum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berliner_Weisse

Finally, various wild herbs and berries are used in traditional medicine and for preparing teas. Many of those, including camomile, rose hips, malva, raspberry leaves, St. Johns wort (hypericum), achillea, etc. should be used across most of Europe. Marigold (calendula officinalis) lotions have traditionally been prepared at home (gently heat the flowers in some animal grease) to cure skin infections - today you of course get them in every pharmacy. The leaves are also tasty as salads.
Tea from linden (tilia) tree flowers helps to recover from a cold (note German "lindern"= to alleviate in this respect, a parallel to the salvia herb and Latin "salvare">to heal). We are collecting linden flowers wildly. Actually, "wildly" is not really correct. Ancient Germanics used to gather under linden trees to celebrate and dance, and also to hold juridical court (probably, the sequence was the other way round, first the court, then the celebration). Accordingly, village squares and main roads were (and are still) lined by linden (e.g. Berlin "Unter den Linden"). So, in fact we are collecting linden flowers on the village square (on which our house is located).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilia

We also used to have a good stock of juniper berries collected a few years ago during an excursion to the Luneburg Heath, but the stock has depleted now and needs replenishment. We use juniper berries to spice red cabbage and "Sauerkraut", also meat stews and game dishes (more on that in another post). There is of course a long NW European tradition to use juniper in alcohol production (Gin, Genever etc.), but so far, we ourselves have turned to supermarkets in this respect.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%BCneburg_Heath

LeBrok
10-07-14, 16:45
Fruit and berries collected include forest strawberries, blackberries (lots of!), sloe, whitethorn, rose hips, and elderberry. Aside from eaten fresh, they are used to prepare juices, jams and jellies (including the typical North German / Scandinavian "Rote Grütze"). They are also used for making liqueurs. Especially sloe liqueur is very tasty - obviously not only in my opinion, because when we set out to collect them in late autumn, we typically find most bushes already harvested by somebody else. Btw, according to Wikipedia, the stomach of Ötzi, the "Iceman", contained sloe residues.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rote_Gr%C3%BCtze

Elderberry flowers, and woodruff ("Waldmeister") are traditionally used to prepare syrup. The syrup, mixed with white wine, sparkling whine, or (sourish) Berlin white beer ("Berliner Weisse"), is a popular spring and early summer drink. Of course, you can nowadays buy woodruff syrup, since a few years also elderberry flower-flavoured sparkling whine, in every supermarket, but many people in the countryside still prepare such syrups at home.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galium_odoratum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berliner_Weisse

Finally, various wild herbs and berries are used in traditional medicine and for preparing teas. Many of those, including camomile, rose hips, malva, raspberry leaves, St. Johns wort (hypericum), achillea, etc. should be used across most of Europe. Marigold (calendula officinalis) lotions have traditionally been prepared at home (gently heat the flowers in some animal grease) to cure skin infections - today you of course get them in every pharmacy. The leaves are also tasty as salads.
Tea from linden (tilia) tree flowers helps to recover from a cold (note German "lindern"= to alleviate in this respect, a parallel to the salvia herb and Latin "salvare">to heal). We are collecting linden flowers wildly. Actually, "wildly" is not really correct. Ancient Germanics used to gather under linden trees to celebrate and dance, and also to hold juridical court (probably, the sequence was the other way round, first the court, then the celebration). Accordingly, village squares and main roads were (and are still) lined by linden (e.g. Berlin "Unter den Linden"). So, in fact we are collecting linden flowers on the village square (on which our house is located).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilia

We also used to have a good stock of juniper berries collected a few years ago during an excursion to the Luneburg Heath, but the stock has depleted now and needs replenishment. We use juniper berries to spice red cabbage and "Sauerkraut", also meat stews and game dishes (more on that in another post). There is of course a long NW European tradition to use juniper in alcohol production (Gin, Genever etc.), but so far, we ourselves have turned to supermarkets in this respect.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%BCneburg_Heath
You have a commanding knowledge of herbs and berries. There is ture HG in you. :)