Betty and Sam

Two years ago (during weed season - like now) I met Betty.  I saw Betty walking across my field headed for something. Engaging in a curious conversation, I asked if I could help her. She pointed to the east wall and in her Palestinian accent said she wanted the "greens."  I felt confused as the "greens" I saw were the fledgling summer vegetables just starting to pop up.  Moving closer to Betty and giving her a proper greeting, I asked for a bit of clarification.  She pointed to the east wall and the "greens."

Betty was pointing to the 2-3' high weeds along the east wall. The weeds that overtook us. The weeds that are a bit invasive.  That day my weed education changed. Betty walked me over to the "chopaza"...the greens.

Being a bit of a researching geek - I started to look up the word (as best as I could phonetically spell it) "chopaza"and nothing seemed to come up.

Betty told me that she gathers this green and makes a wonderful dish and promised to bring a bowl over the next day.

That all happened on a Monday and the next day - Tuesday -at that time was a market morning.  Around 9 am Betty (the American name I gave her because I just couldn't get the correct pronunciation down) with a big bowl of the greens.  The morning took on a fun weed twist as we passed out plastic forks to the groups of moms - tasting "chopaza."  Interested moms were given some scissors to indulge in cutting some of these deliciously prepared greens to serve up at their evening meal.

Later that day, I learned this green is actually called mallow. Mallow is higher in iron than spinach and it grows free.

Last week I met Sam. Walking toward new people - as I normally do - to give a proper farm greeting - I kinda figured that Sam was Palestinian as well - you see, Sam was gathering mallow to make "chopaza" for her family meal table.

Yesterday, as Sam promised, brought a big bowl of her "chopaza" for us to try. I have to tell you, it's really delicious. Chopped mallow, cooked in sauteed onions sprinkled with salt and pepper is amazing!

Sam, however, has expanded my edible weed experience. I have learned of a few other very nutritious weeds on our property. . . and I will learn how to prepare them. For example this weed -




you rub and serve with yogurt. I still have no clue what it's called (if you do leave a comment to share its name) and I still have no details on its preparation - but I'm delighted to learn about free food.

A month ago, I shared about two books that intrigue me {here}.  

Michael and I are not only enjoying but being challenged by reading Stalking the Wild Asparagus to discover all sorts of wild food growing all around us. Sam and Betty have taught me about what's right in my own yard.  What's in yours?  Have you gone foraging yet? Do share your foraging tips!