Howdy Friends and Family,
We continue to stretch our time at Cortijada Los Gázquez and we hope that we don’t seem like broken records over here at Fodenvensel Studios HQ. The students from Goldsmiths College are back in London and a group of five friendly Americans have come and gone. They were organized through the same group that arranged the last gastronomy tour.
We learned quite a lot from one of the students about foraging. A Kurdish Iraqi student named Rebeen shared that two plants that grow near the house are eaten regularly in northern Iraq where he is from. He sent a photo of geranium leaves he found in the area to his mother in Iraq from his phone and she confirmed their edibility. A few days later we were all eating sautéed geranium leaves. This week I spent an hour picking them for a soufflé-like dish that Donna usually makes with spinach.
Rebeen also turned us on to the unique sour flavor of green almonds. Green almonds are picked from the tree in March or April while they are still immature and wear fuzzy green sweaters. Since they have not yet developed a shell they can be eaten in their entirety and are best with a little sea salt. When the almonds mature, they shed their sweaters and reveal the hard brown shell most of us are familiar with. They have a bright, fresh, very green flavor. Rebeen brought a few pounds of green almonds back with him to London to share with Kurdish friends in commemoration of a Kurdish massacre by the Iraqi government in 1988.
We have also collected wild arugula, called “rocket” by the Brits, though it is starting to taper off now. In its place the thistles are beginning to bloom and we have ideas of collecting the young blossoms to harvest the bright purple stamens to make a vegetarian rennet for future cheese making endeavors. Yesterday we made Halloumi cheese from fresh goat milk. It is a cheese that relies on vinegar instead of rennet. It is a “squeaky” cheese with a firm curd.
For the gastronomy weekend a botanist named Maite came to Los Gázquez to take the guests foraging for edible plants on the land. They brought back what they found and used the herbs to season the goat cheese they made the day before. The guests sampled their homemade cheeses, and then the two of us happily took the large amounts of cheese that were left untouched.
It is now Wednesday morning and the guests just left a couple of hours ago. There is a week until the next gastronomy group arrives and until we likely will leave Almería and head north to St. Jean Pied de Port, France.