Friday, July 23, 2010

Goose Tongue Greens


We have the best friends. Last night we were invited to dinner at our Vermont parents' house. Carl and Deb have adopted us and saved us from many disasters.


One of the dishes they served was wild goose tongue greens. Carl and Deb have built a second home in New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy. They spend several weeks a year there and each summer they collect this marsh sea grass to eat. They prepare it by boiling it lightly. It needs no seasoning as it is naturally salty. We loved it. Deb sent us home with a ziplock bag filled with raw goosegrass greens to prepare at home.


We have had many discussions about whether or not to count plants fed to us rather than collected and prepared by us. Since our tagline is one family, one year, one hundred wild foods, we have decided there is nothing wrong with counting wild plants we recieve from others.


However, this presents an interesting dilemma, and it is especially strong with the goose grass. When we eat a plant collected and prepared by others, we don't really know what we are eating. We have not identified the plant, nor have we seen where it was collected. We are only eating one part of the plant and it is usually already processed. With the crayfish Tifin gave us, identification was relatively easy. Not so with goose tongue.

I have just spent an hour on the computer and in my books reading about "goose tongue." It seems there are a few plants that have this common name, most of them edible, but not the same plant. I found many references to what I think Deb and Carl served us, a marsh grass that grows in the Bay of Fundy with a long history of being eaten by the peoples native to the area as well as French Canadian settlers. The pictures looked encouraging, but I found several different scientific names. It also had an array of common names from the most common passe-pierre and goose tongue to cleavers and goosegrass.


When I checked my Peterson's guide, I found galium aparine (one of the scientific names listed for Deb and Carl's plant), with the common names cleavers and goosegrass. This plant, however, does not seem to be what we ate last night. Though edible, it is not a marsh grass, grows "throughout," and looks nothing like the pictures of passe-pierre I found online or the plant we were served.


I need to do more research on the genus galium as it was the most common one associated with the marsh sea grass. Perhaps that will lead me in the right direction. Regardless, we ate a fantastic wild green, not from our area, that many people eat and enjoy. We will count it on our list, though we aren't quite sure what it truly is. Hopefully, one day we will travel with Deb and Carl, buy a local field guide, and collect this delicious edible ourselves.

12 comments:

  1. Plantago Maritima is the scientific name you are seeking.

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    1. Thanks Wayne,

      You are right on. This is Plantago maratima, more commonly known as sea plantain, or seaside plantain. Boy, what a revealing case of common names causing confusion that scientific names solve.

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  2. Gonna have some tonight myself

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  3. Interesting that most of the references to goose tongue are from folks on the Bay of Fundy! I, too, like Carl and Deb live along the Bay. In fact, I'd be willing to bet we live in spittin' distance...since the Hillsborough/Riverside-Albert areas have excellent goose tongue picking.

    Like anonymous...I'm steaming up a batch tonight and was just googling them to see if I could find an interesting variation. I prefer mine steamed with balsamic vinegar and butter. Which is how I also prefer fiddleheads and samphire greens.

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  4. Ah...Down country! I grew up on Goose Tongue Greens and Dulse!!

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  5. Just gathered much of it here on the West Coast, Willapa Bay. Soaked overnight, going through and cleaning it now.

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  6. This has been one of our most popular posts. Thanks everyone for tuning in. Keep an eye on us for more on goose tongue greens soon.

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    1. Hi Thag,

      I'd like to talk to you about using a the goose tongue photo for an upcoming project. Can you please email me at aaron.zober@shineamerica.com to discuss this.

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  7. a neighbour sent some over and I am going to steam them tonight. It will be my first time trying them, a couple of weeks ago he sent over some lamb's quarter greens, very much like spinach in flavor.

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  8. Zombie post - I miss my goosetongues after moving down south to the US, grew up in Riverside-Albert and I certainly do enjoy a good mess of greens with potatoes and pork hocks, which is how we traditionally cooked them. FYI they also freeze very well.

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  9. My aunt harvested Goose Tongue on the salt water part of the Penobscot river in Sandy Point, Maine. She called them "shore greens" and they were a 4th of July fixture. I have seen them growing on the Atlantic coast of Maine as far south as Ogunquit. I am taking a course in "Foraging for Edibles" as I would like to harvest ramps in Maine and my research on Goose Tongue will be my contribution to the class. Thank you.

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  10. Here's a boo hoo story with a happy ending. I had harvested my goose tongue greens and cleaned parboiled and froze them. Then Hurricane Arthur hit and lost it in the "No Electricity" thing afterward. I went to the marsh again just to see if by chance I might find enough for at least a meal. What I found bewildered me to a degree. Their were plants about 3" high so I waited about 3 weeks and found enough for a couple meals, thank God. I picked it with my Mom as a child and still do primarily for the strength that courses through my veins afterward. Im going to go and check again perhaps this weekend to see if I can get a bit more, this is late perhaps we will have a mild fall.

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