When Robertsons Spices wanted to take Chefs on a foraging experience to celebrate the naturalness of their new spice range, they asked wild food innovator and foraging expert, Roushanna Gray to assist. Roushanna is passionate about healthy, natural and sustainable ingredients and so was the perfect fit for the new GMO-free, non-irradiated and with no MSG added spice range.
How did you get into foraging?
I got into it slowly and organically, developing over 13 years through a combined love for cooking and nature and a lot of good old-fashioned hands-on hard work. It was a hobby that got out of control in a wildly delicious way - I started out by running a tiny tea garden to service the indigenous plant nursery where Veld and Sea is now based, serving wild herbal teas and cakes.
A few years on, I felt my wild edible education was solid enough to start sharing, so the tea garden doors closed and the workshop doors opened. I have been teaching interactive and immersive wild food workshops since 2013. Currently Veld and Sea offers seasonal and sustainable foraging classes, workshops and collaborative nature inspired events throughout the year, tracking the seasons through our edible landscape.
What do you love most about sharing the experience with other people?
I love when I can see a noticeable difference in guests’ faces, it’s like a switch has been flipped and their eyes and minds have been peeled open to all the new possibilities available in their own gardens or the surrounding environment. Then it’s really fun bouncing around ideas of how they can incorporate these new ingredients into their everyday meals.
What is your favourite foraging spot?
That depends on the season, but I do love coastal foraging at the beach or diving underwater in the summertime.
What would your ideal foraged supper be?
A seaweedy mussel pot cooked on the fire.
What is your favourite foraged ingredient?
The very first wild mushroom after the last rain in autumn, Veldkool flower buds in winter and a seaweed in summer.
Why do you think humans have lost touch with the environment – and have limited knowledge of edible indigenous plants?
We live such fast paced lives these days – it’s just not convenient to be foraging anymore. This art has been lost over generations, but hopefully many more people will rediscover it!
What is your favourite wild herb?
You obviously try new dishes all the time – what’s been your biggest flop?
Ha. My very first Seaweed Jelly. Let’s just say the dogs had a good supper that night!
You’re a fan of seaweed – how did you come to eating this plant?
I was introduced to edible seaweed by a visiting Japanese friend and have been working with and eating seaweeds for the past 8 years.
Have you noticed over the years that people want to eat more natural, unprocessed and healthy foods? Why do you think this is?
Absolutely – there is a noticeable change in the general public’s perception healthy living and healthy eating.
What common plants can people forage for in urban spaces?
Edible weeds! Probably growing in a garden near you right now... Nettles, Chenepodium/Imifino, Dandelion, Nasturtiums.
For Chefs who want to grow their own indigenous ingredients – what main plants would you recommend as staples in their garden and why?
It all depends on where in SA you live, but I would recommend some herbaceous plants to begin with. Wild Rosemary – Eriocephalus africanus, Spekboom – Portulacaria afra, Wild Mint – Mentha longifolia and Lemon, Rose and Peppermint Pelargoniums.
What do you think of the new Robertsons Spice range?
I love it! I especially love the fact that there are no GMOs, no MSG added or use of radiation sterilisation