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What have you eaten off the street lately?

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I'm not talking bacon-wrapped hot dogs...I mean, what fallen fruits have you tried lately either from trees or on the ground. I've been trying to sample things as I walk around my neighborhood and lately I've had:
a great pomegranate sitting on the ground with just a small crack
my first cactus fruit -- carried it home in a kleenex, beautiful fuchsia color inside, flavor a bit insipid
carob pod -- lots of carob on the ground in Silver Lake right now, first time I chewed a whole one instead of eating a carob candy bar or something -- pleasantly bready taste

I'm looking forward to rain because I know a yard where morels grow from cactus.
I've also sampled nasturtiums, fejoia fruit and flowers, guavas, kumquats...there's a lot of stuff growing in people's yards in L.A.

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  1. Apricots off a tree on public land- tiny tiny with tough skin but very intense concentrated flavor cuz of little water. My neighbor gave me permission to pluck his calamansi- I thought they were kumquats. During the season tons of loquats- people don't seem to realize how great they are and just let them drop & rot. Mulberrries off a big old tree again in season - been over for a while. I keep seeing these quince dropping & rotting- will pick some tomorrow and cook up to see if they are worth it. They just look sort of anemic. I see glorious mushrooms but am too afraid to risk eating just via a handbook description. I think there are still some black berries in one of the canyons- will check out later in week. Two weeks ago I cook smell the really ripe ones but the ones I could reach were still super tart.

    3 Replies
    1. re: torty

      We have lots of loquats here -- do you just eat them out of hand? As far as mushrooms, I wouldn't eat any except morels. I've done some reading and it seems as if they're the one type of mushroom that's both easily recognizable and doesn't have any poisonous varieties in the same family. Even false morels seem to look quite different.

      1. re: Chowpatty

        Loquats I just eat off the tree. A friend into jamming was going to do a jam this summer but she didn't offer me any so I'm thinking it was no where near her homegrown plum or blackberry products. I find the seeds so sexy I like to pile them in a bowl, and asked a jewelry making friend to consider an application... Agreed on shrooms- too scary. I left out fennel. We had almost no rain so there was just a scraggly representation of that glorious "weed" this summer. The recent quick rain prompted some small intense shoots which I am thinking of plucking to do in a steamed manila clam dish before the fennel is gone.

        1. re: Chowpatty

          Loquats trees grow all around the East Bay Area and I spied 3 in my neighborhood that I plan to revisit. We had a tree in our backyard and summers were spent laying on the garage roof, eating loquats and shooting the seeds at each other.

          There is also a walnut tree which bears quite a bit of fruit 2 blocks away. There are people around here that harvest "wild" fruit. I've seen them with long rakes.

          There is also some sort of rogue tomato patch growing in the back of a local supermarket that has quite a bit of fruit, although I've never seen any ripe. Does the wild turkey in my mom's neighborhood count?

          Also picked up the best Red Delicious apples and Black Mission Figs off the ground under my mom's trees. I didn't want anything to go to waste.

      2. The first spring capsicums from my neighbours garden (traded for some yabbies caught in a dam on Crown land), some nasturtuims growing wild on said Crown land, beans from a vine that pokes thru a fence we pass on our weekend walk, and I flavoured some creme fraiche with rose-scented geranium we found poking thru another fence, too!!

        1. Pomegranate jelly my sister made from her neighbor's pomegranates. She lives in Palo Alto, and she's thinking of trying to set up some kind of fruit exchange for people who have too much of one kind of fruit and none of others.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I'm guessing that suburban/rural No Cal works in a whole different dimension for this stuff; my uncle's house in Saratoga used to back up to a whole apricot ORCHARD, and I believe that when they developed it, a couple of trees got saved; my old street in Menlo Park (Santa Margarita), and the next street over had two-three blocks worth of mature WALNUT trees as "street trees"; I suspect they're pulled out, based at least in part upon the gnarly stain that the juice from immature walnuts leaves on things (and which made them SO good for chucking at your 6 yr. old enemies)

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            1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

              You might be right about that. My mother's West Berkeley house has a lot a half a block long. In the back yard she still has a productive Red Delicious apple, Bartlett pear, Black Mission fig, apricot, lemon and orange tree.

              When we were growing up we also had fruit bearing peach, plum, loquat, almond and walnut trees. She's near a big creek, the ground must be incredibly fertile. I get bumper crops of Yellow Brandywine tomatoes now and have from day one of my 5 year old gardening career.

              No one else in the neighborhood has anywhere near as many trees. Although I recently found out that 2 doors down is a productive blood orange tree that has been there for as long as I can remember.

          2. I was walking past a feral almond tree on some vacant lot and tried one.
            I was totally unprepared for the intense amaretto taste that was unlike any of the almonds from my lot, I think it was one of those poisonous bitter almonds that you are not supposed to eat but I enjoyed the taste immensely.
            I have dried a couple but the taste fades a bit with time.

            1. Dates, fallen off palms. Olive sized, bright orange, pretty tasty.

              A raw olive. Anybody eaten a raw olive lately? Awfully strongly astringent, my mouth remained gluey and gooey for a full 24 hrs. Wouldn't recommend.

              1 Reply
              1. re: RicRios

                Yes, on my marathon tasting walk I tried an olive too. Yuck. I see those dates but haven't eaten them -- I'll have to try them. We used to have a jujube tree in the yard -- now that was cool.

              2. Mint, fennel (I harvested the seeds), purslane, and blackberries. I also ran into a guy harvesting porcinis in SF. (Actually, this was slightly alarming, since at first he seemed crazy.) He said the fog dripping out of the treetops provides a perfect growing environment. In season, he drives by in his beat-up old car every day to have a look, but he has to get there before the old Russian ladies, who will happily clobber him with their sticks. He told me not to tell exactly where this is, so I won't.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Glencora

                  That's right, the old Russian ladies know exactly which / where / what, they are a magnet for porcinis!
                  Now let's see, a good truffle hunting dog is about 50 grand...(I'm afraid to ask the next question)

                2. I haven't yet converted any part of my backyard in Orange County to the Garden of Eatin', so I tend to forage for my herbs. Purslane, sage, rosemary, fennel, thyme, pebre d'ai, lavender, and chrysanthemum are all in easy walking distance. Neighbours have overgrown avocado, citrus and pomegranate trees, there are kumquats and loquats on public land, overgrown rosebushes (for rosehips), and even a fourteen-foot-tall, spindly, awful-looking chile serrano "tree" that leans over the sidewalk. I also have taken (with permission) monstera deliciosa pods -- the looks I get! "Can I harvest the pod?" "Um, sure... why?" "It's edible, you just have to be patient."

                  Oh, and the next-dooriker has a banana tree and a papaya tree he doesn't use.

                  1. Just a note that tuna (cactus fruit) with a squeeze of lime peps up the flavor. Maybe something else too is put on them. I had my first taste of these this year. The first was packaged and peeled from a Mexican market and had some lime slices and ... maybe ... something else. Don't remember. Then I tried a sample from a farmers market and without the lime it wasn't as good.

                    1. Guava ... still a bit raw and hard.

                      Dates ... too ripe.

                      Lemons.

                      Persimmons ... soon, very very soon.

                      1. Well, Cam the Man never has gotten over leaving the feijoa tree behind on GPB, so prowls the neighborhood with the homies looking for street fruit; reports that there is some to be had up north of Los Feliz Bl. Bruce the PD used to live down the street from an apricot tree which spilled over into the street. What I want to know is who's got a white sapote tree like the one that was in my late grandfather's neighbor's yard in Hancock Park; probably 30-40' tall, branches extended over into grandpa's yard, except when he had the gardener trim them 'cause, in season they dumped a couple of bushels of fruit on his grass!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                          Sorry to be micro-local but I snagged some good feijoas on Scotland yesterday. We used to have a big sapote when I lived on Coronado Terrace but I never really liked them-- too bland and mushy.
                          And thanks to rworange -- I'll try the squeeze of lime as that cactus seems to have several more fruits on it.

                        2. My family buys little baggies of shelled gingko nuts that the little old ladies of Chinatown have no doubt picked up from the random gingko trees on the streets.

                          My first college roommate was shocked to see me eating chestnuts; she said they were all over the streets of her town in upstate NY, but she thought they were just "squirrel food".

                          1. Squash or pumpkin blossoms: now and then some vines will appear somewhere along the road or in an empty lot.

                            1. Some underripe persimmons!

                              1. some figs from down the block. there's a branch that hangs over the neighbor's fence!

                                1. Yup, figs that hang too near the fence to be safe from predators such as myself; also, walnuts salvaged from the ground on my daily walk (probably overlooked or rejected by squirrels). We have kindly neighbors who put bowls of their bounty on the sidewalk for anyone to take, and I've enjoyed their tomatoes and lemon cucumbers. When my lemons come in fast and furious, that's what I plan to do.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Marsha

                                    Address, please?

                                  2. I've eaten wild blueberries, blackberries, rasberries, strawberries, and crab apples. Grew up on a lonesome road in a state park.