Danny's Diary: Savour our treasure trove of nature
Funny how at age 49 I don’t really feel like it.
Somehow in my mind I am timeless. I mean, the signs are there, grey hair, etc.
I realise it when I am with younger strollers and we go for walks. I tend to fall behind. I am also not as strong as I used to be. But in heart and spirit I am young.
I love nature and the outdoors, and the unknown. My favourite subject in school was biology. I learnt from an early age which plants are poisonous, which spiders and snakes can kill with just one bite.
For me, it was vital to know this because so many people have no clue, but would kill anything that crawls.
Cockroaches are perhaps ugly, but the way some people can carry on when they see one is like finding a crocodile in the shower. If there were no flies rats and roaches, this planet would have been in big trouble. Some of us had white rats as pets but the poor grey rat is public enemy number one.
We Capetonians are truly blessed with nature all around us.
The Cape Floral Region is a World Heritage Site and one of the richest plant areas in the world. There are 9 000 species of fynbos found in the Cape area and 2 000 of which only grow on Table Mountain. Many of these are under threat of extinction. As there are many poisonous plants out there, I discovered that there are many many edible ones too.
For those who don’t know, many edible and medicinal plants grow in and around the city. The ocean has its own edible treasures on the rocks. When you go out to collect these plants you are “foraging”.
Take a walk along the pedestrian path from Green Point to Sea Point you will find along the way short stubby bushes with dark red berries. They are called num-nums and are edible. You can find wild spinach on the dunes. Then there is the wild asparagus which is tasty too. Wild garlic, comfrey bush and sour fig can be used to spice up a meal. You also find wild pumpkin and squash.
You cook them the same way as pumpkin you would find in a shop. There are edible mushrooms in the woods but to be honest I don’t trust myself enough to take a chance as I am not an expert on mushrooms.
Going to the beach there is edible seaweed. I love collecting mussels from the rocks and eating them just like that – raw. You can find snails in the sand, clams and if you really lucky, small prawns. With a little patience you might even get hold of a crab or two.
There is no waste as you only collect what you need. It is so much fun. You really get close to nature.
* Danny Oosthuizen is the ambassador of #TheDignityProject. In his weekly column for the Cape Argus he tackles the struggles homeless people face. Connect with Danny on Facebook and on Twitter @masekind3213 or via email: [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.