By Juliette de Bairacli-Levy
British Vegetarian (May/June 1970)
The region where I now live is a natural region
for vegetarians, the land promised to the ancient Israelites - the good
land of springs of water, and the milk and honey. This is an area of
wild food. There are wild harvests awaiting the gathering the year
In the late winter, the rains come. They bring an
abundance of mushrooms, so milky and juicy they can be eaten raw. The
best crops grow in the regions of the conifers; but they are everywhere
where the teeming herds of black goats graze and manure the earth.
The Bedoins and the Druze Arabs fire-toast their gatherings of
mushrooms, and they say that not one poisonous fungus grows in Galilee.
I would not accept that as being quite true, any more than the belief
that all water in which water-cress grows is fit for drinking!
Along with the wild mushrooms, the rains bring an abundance of wild
salad foods of all kinds. In the spring-fed streams the wild cresses
grow, and in the woody vales garlics of many kinds, and the abundant
nettles, which it is said, the Romans brought with them as a cure for
rheumatism. Now they are everywhere as healthful food for man and
With the rains there come also the green leaves of the
wild turnip, mustard, the sweet hearts of the milk thistles;
lemon-flavoured sorrels of many kinds, and the sweet-buds on the
hawthorns, which later, along with the wild roses, produce their edible
fruits. Blackberries fruit by the streams.
In the summer months
the clovers come, food for man, and food for the wild Palestinian bee
which produces a wonderful honey. This healthy, tiny, dark, clover bee
of the Holy Land is given fame in the Bible, and rightfully so.
There are countless dried fruits in Galilee: fruits of the Bible,
especially the fig and the grape, pomegranate and plum. The spies sent
by Moses into the Holy Land brought back a bunch of fine grapes, and the
grape still grows wild on hillsides and in valleys.
One of the
most historic and interesting of trees is the dom, or Christ-thorn. This
tree is a blessing for the wanderers, as its fruit, dry or fresh, lies
around the tree or on its spiky-bird-protected branches the year
through. The fruits, when dried, keep really indefinitely. Then in the
truly desert areas grow spiky things. Not only the delicious cactus
fruit, which when cleansed of their prickles, give refreshing food the
whole summer. There are then the partridge berries, which grow on waste
land, far from water, and sustain the wild birds, especially the
Everywhere wild peas and beans grow. The Bedouins
roast them over their fires, but they can be eaten raw.
wild grains. Without water, fed by the morning dews and the sun, they
become fat enough to feed man as well as the birds, rodents and wild
Barley, wheat and oats all grow richly; indeed they
clothe, with their gold, wide tracts of land.
And finally, the
wild herbs. Those promised medicines of the Bible for the healing of
mankind; they are everywhere in Galilee: rue and wormwood, thyme and
marjoram, sage and borage; the soothing poppies and the healing
This is a land where the poor can live well and the
wanderers need never be hungry.
With thanks to the Vegetarian
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