Foraging, or gathering wild plants for food, is a foreign concept to most people, especially city-dwellers. Some see it as primitive and a waste of time, but foraging is a gratifying experience. For one, it’s like a treasure hunt and even finding a small handful of edibles makes you feel accomplished. A word of caution though — always double check that whatever you gather (mushrooms, flowers, herbs) is edible. Use multiple, verified sources (this blog is definitely NOT a source) to confirm that your finds are indeed safe to eat.
flowers for food
A few days before Christmas, I went for a sunrise walk along the famous Gurney Drive. Since 2016, the sea has undergone a land reclamation process and a fence was erected to prevent people from entering. It’s common to see people running or exercising along the sidewalk but for the first time, I saw people harvesting butterfly pea flowers (Clitoria ternatea) which grow abundantly along the mesh fence!
Crabs, mudskippers, birds, and the occasional rat or monitor lizard frequent the sea but there wasn’t much greenery before. Now that creeping plants and trees have been introduced, new life has emerged.
Foraging all the flowers before they wither and die and “become useless” sounds practical, but when I saw the number of bumblebees and heard them buzzing around me, it reminded me that I shouldn’t be greedy and take everything for myself.
The flowers at the top of the fence were too high to reach so those and the yellow flowers from another creeping plant (#identifythisplant) were left untouched for the bees.
Once you have your fresh flowers, let them dry in a sunny spot with airflow. Once they are completely dry, use them as natural food colouring or make a herbal tisane with lemongrass!
gurney drive 2.0
The new “Gurney Wharf” is ambitious and will contain 4 distinct regions: a seaside retail F&B, water gardens, a beach, and coastal grove. The focus seems to be on developing this area into a vibrant attraction rather than a sustainable/green park, but hopefully eco-friendly design and architecture will be used and help turn Penang into a greener place.