Restaurants make a killing serving what was originally peasant food at a king’s price. Like jazz, football and Putney, the creators and original fans are being priced out, but it is still possible to get a free lunch.
Caviar, gnocchi, ratatouille and wild mushrooms were all originally cheap to buy and readily available. With a bit of resourcefulness, it is possible to eat lunch well without the price tag…
Many restaurants serve nettles steamed, boiled or squashed as part of dishes. Simply take a thick pair of gloves and go after the light green leaves while avoiding the stems. Trample the leaves with a rolling pin to remove the threat of being stung. Clean the leaves and serve raw or boiled. The taste of nettles closely resembles spinach and so does the nutrition, they are great for iron, protein and fibre.
Take the safe option of wild sweet chestnuts, or hunt for wild mushrooms using a guide book or experienced friend.
Before eating wild mushrooms, it is important to photograph the raw mushroom and keep a small amount aside for identification. Cooking also makes some poisonous varieties edible.
Garnish this with any other wild varieties common in the country such as wild garlic and dandelions to contrast the modest flavours of the mushrooms or chestnuts. Add poppy seeds to give the meal some crunch.
If you fancy some spice, reduce down the nettles, mushrooms and chestnuts with curry powder and vegetable stock.