The Scandinavian countries, which have a similar flora to Scotland, are interesting ethnobotanically but attendance at a four day congress in Gothenburg City on science communication didn’t seem like the best opportunity to get a handle on local plant use.
However, as luck would have it I picked up a couple of nice examples of nice old birch baskets from a secondhand stall and found a small bottle of birch oil in a corner hardware store. Wild boar hunters dowse themselves with this acrid selling stuff to disguise their scent. ‘It is also very good for attracting the ladies’ I was told by the shop assistant with a wink.
Nordic cuisine inspired by Rene Redzipe of Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant is making waves across the region. With its obsession with local, season and wild it is the best way to savour the landscape in a meal.
Sweden must be the most expensive place in the world to eat and most of the restaurants were way beyond my budget but the Styrso Skaret, on a small island in the archipelago, provided a taste of nuevo Nordica at a reasonable price with ling, Norway lobster, wild garlic and Swede (what else!) mash, asparagus, garnished with leaves of wild chervil, angelica, an unidentified red-leaved beet, fennel and ground elder.
As I sampled this delicious combination of fresh local flavours, all gathered within 500m of the restaurant, I tried not to think of what I paying to eat a pernicious weed I have devoted hours to trying to eradicate from my own garden!