nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

making friends with the ferns #2

with 18 comments


The onset of plants in spring is overwhelming.  This year, I seem to see ferns everywhere, probably because the fiddlehead of the Ostrich Fern is a delicacy in New Brunswick.  The Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia Struthiopteris (L.) Todaro) grows in riparian (shoreland) areas all along the St. John River and its tributaries.

This time of year, car and trucks park in small roads off the old Trans-Canada, and you can glimpse people picking fiddleheads in lowlying places along the river.  They concentrate on what they are doing, their backs bent, hardly looking up from their picking.  People have favorite fiddleheading spots and usually follow a code, leaving a percentage of the fiddleheads to grow and sustain the ferns for future years.

I only picked a few fiddelheads this year.  They were a little older than they are ordinarily picked, but they were delicious.  The best fiddleheads are picked when they are just above the surface.  After picking they are cleaned, a very easy undertaking, and boiled or steamed until very well cooked.

The cooking liquor is discarded – its dark amber-red color is due to high concentrations of shikimik acid.  Once cooked, the fiddleheads are a flavorful green, served with butter or margarine.  When my husband was young, his family ate a meal of fiddleheads, new potatoes and shad at fiddleheading time.

Warning:
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

In town, people are selling fiddleheads from trucks and at small stands, and there will certainly be Fiddleheads at the Farmer’s Market today in Fredericton.  Usually, the sellers do a brisk business, keeping the fiddleheads fresh in portable coolers and in buckets.  I watched a vendor bagging the green fiddleheads, giving the clear plastic bag a deft twirl to seal it before he handed it to the buyer.

Have you ever eaten fiddleheads?

~

~ 

waking from a dream

                        Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia Struthiopteris (L.) Todaro)

~

bottom-land thicket

naked in spring

a rumpled bed

the throws of hibernation

~

new growth cocooned

in dry leaves, bent skeletons

last summer’s fern

~

sun surge

insult

between curtains

~

green fiddlehead

uncoils

head down

hesitant fist thrust

between pillows and down

stretches fingers

filigreed shadow

new blocking of sun

~

brown coverlet

kicked

~

new green bedspread

new green canopy

green shade

~

~

Published www.nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com  Nov. 9, 2011

© Jane Tims 2011

Warning: 
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.
 
 

Written by jane tims

May 19, 2012 at 7:41 am

18 Responses

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  1. Great blog on fiddleheads…they were part of our growing up life every spring. Love your poem.

    Like

    Carol Steel

    May 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    • Hi Carol. Thanks. I think eating fiddleheads must be truly a New Brunswick tradition! It shows how local foods are still an important part of our lives. Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      May 24, 2012 at 8:00 am

  2. Lovely poem, Jane, and I really like your drawing. I have had fiddleheads at a restaurant. My husband and I were talking about them recently, wondering if our ferns produced edible fiddleheads. They looked right, but… neither of us is willing to try something without knowing for sure.

    Like

    Robin

    May 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

    • Hi. There are so many fiddleheads and some will make you sick. I suggest a good field guide, identification in summer and then return to the exact place in spring. The other possibility is to contact someone you know who knows and have them show you! Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      May 22, 2012 at 5:12 pm

  3. They look quite nice, though I’ve never tried them! To be honest I didn’t even know you could eat something like that! Great sketch and poem Jane, “sun surge/insult/between curtains” is my favourite, I can just see it happening. 😀

    Like

    Eve Redwater

    May 21, 2012 at 5:53 am

    • Hi! Thanks for the comment on my poem. When a food is strange looking, the first bite is the challenge. I first tasted fiddleheads years ago when I came to New Brunswick and it has become a tradition to have a ‘feed’ each spring. Some people freeze them and eat them year-round. Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      May 21, 2012 at 7:16 am

  4. Lovely all around, Jane. Sun surge ~ insult ~ between curtains – marvelous. I LOVE fiddleheads. Lots of people come to pick them behind us on the Salamanca Trail. Thank you.

    Like

    Jane Fritz

    May 20, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    • Hi Jane. Thanks for the comment. I once hoped that the ferns growing in the gully behind us were Ostrich Fern, but no. However, there are lots of places to go to get them. Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      May 21, 2012 at 7:11 am

  5. The name of our local food coop is Fiddleheads, but I’ve never noticed them for sale there. Will have to make a point of trying some. Your poem made me think of my frequent conflicts with the afternoon sun: “sun surge/insult/between curtains.” If I don’t close the shades in the kitchen at noontime, when I walk in there to prepare dinner late in the afternoon, the bright sunlight “insults” my poor eyes…

    Like

    Barbara Rodgers

    May 20, 2012 at 9:27 am

    • Hi. Thanks for the comment! I had to make room darkening curtains here when my husband worked shiftwork. Do try fiddleheads if you can find them. They are still for sale here, but mostly gone from the woods. Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      May 20, 2012 at 11:33 am

      • I too have to keep my windows shaded from the light as it comes in here at a bad angle and is so harsh it can make you sick. The windows are padded so that it keeps it cooler in here and warmer in the winter too.

        Like

        snowbirdpress

        May 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm

  6. Hi, Jane, Around here you can’t see them till they are too old to eat. I tried to eat them one year and they were just too tough. The thought occurred to me that they might do well being fried…but after my experience with them decided I’d stick to dandelion greens till my lettuce etc. is up.

    Like

    snowbirdpress

    May 19, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    • Hi. Here the fiddleheads have all turned into ferns. One thing about dandelion greens, they can usually be found somewhere! Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      May 20, 2012 at 11:31 am

      • So true. I remember my Mom always said to make sure you pick the leaves before the blooms to avoid the bitterness. But I find them great salad mates all summer long.

        Like

        snowbirdpress

        May 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

  7. Nice poem Jane. Personally I don’t like the taste of fiddle heads but they are popular amongst the masses for sure.

    Like

    JD

    May 19, 2012 at 9:40 am

    • Hi. I like fiddleheads in small bits. They are almost done for this year, but I had my collection and eating experience!!!! Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      May 19, 2012 at 10:15 am


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