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When George Fredenham, one half of wild food outfit The Foragers, picks a flower and hands it to me, it’s not an old-fashioned case of a-wooing – this is a snack to hold me over ’til dinner.

“Can I eat all of it?” I ask, contemplating the oddity of chewing on the coltsfoot flower’s yellow bud. It strikes me as a bit eccentric to start nibbling on bits of the countryside.

“Everything but the poisonous bits,” Fredenham replies with a wry smile. He’s joking, but it’s exactly what I’m afraid of – it just doesn’t seem like something I should be stuffing in my gob.

But sure enough, from top to bottom, the coltsfoot is full of flavour, the bud sweet and almost melon-like, while the stem is reminiscent of asparagus. Apparently I should be filling my face among the foliage more often.

I’ve travelled to St Albans to meet Fredenham and his foraging buddy Gerald Waldeck, who for the past couple of years have been serving up their pickings from the area, first in local pub The Verulam Arms and more recently at Dalston hipster joint The Dead Dolls Club.

And this weekend they’ll mark a further step forward into London’s food scene, as The Foragers are doing all of the grub at A Fete Worse Than Death, a May Day street party at Shoreditch stronghold The Book Club. The free event on May 5 offers up a day of Morris dancing, cider drinking, village fete games and, thanks to The Foragers, gourmet wild food.

It’s a big chance for The Foragers to really make a mark with their unique take on seasonal fare – hunting and gathering in the hedgerows, and cooking up incredible recipes using weeds most people would throw in the compost rather than stock in the kitchen.

The pair came together, appropriately enough, organically. Waldeck’s daughter became friends with Fredenham’s brother, bringing the two men into contact.

Waldeck had always enjoyed gathering wild plants, fruit and fungi; Fredenham had just quit his City job in emerging markets to pursue a passion for food. “I travelled to lots of interesting places with the job – Japan, Sudan, South America, Eastern Europe,” Fredenham explains.

“But I would always be more interested in going out for street food after the meeting than the meeting itself.” What’s his fondest food memory from this time? Without hesitation: “A big slab of fat with a shot of vodka in Russia.”

The Foragers aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty in the pursuit of new recipes – it’s all part of the philosophy, getting soil under their fingernails to put together a menu without supply chains or air miles.

Fredenham tells me a story about when he and a friend skinned, beheaded, de-clawed and “de-footed” 80 squirrels to make one loaf tin of pâté. (I hope it was good after all that? “It was lovely pâté,” he assures me.)

That’s the kind of dedication and experimentation that makes the food so good. The meat The Foragers use is all game, shot locally, often from culls carried out on estates.

So along with the furry-tailed little fellas, you can expect to see the likes of venison, pigeon and rabbit on a plate of foraged food.What’s really surprising about this wild food malarkey, however, is just how much flavour comes from the kind of innocuous-looking greenery you might ordinarily trample underfoot.

During our short walk in St Albans, we stumble across – to name but a few – cow parsley (tastes sweet, almost like a berry); hawthorn, a hedgerow plant I’m told is good in cheese sandwiches; and plantain, a weed which likes to grow on dirt tracks and tastes just like mushroom.


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Eating weed and wild flowers: Food pioneers The Foragers show Londoners they're missing out
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