The apples were tart but tasty, the mulberries were out of season, and the epazote was nowhere to be found; in fact, I still don’t even know what epazote is. I am referring to foraging – of the urban variety – to which I had devoted my weekend.

Many New Yorkers know of Central Park to be a natural sanctuary to find rest, relaxation, and leisurely activities, especially on a sunny summer weekend. Few, however, may know of the nourishing elements of the park. Indeed Central Park is not just an 840 acre playground but is host to many, not only edible, but nutritious and delicious, plants. And with the help of a professional forager or a fruit-locating web service, any one of us urbanites can unlock the door to a world of free seasonal food, just across the street.

After having learned of neaighborhoodfruit.com, a website that provides mapped coordinates of fruit trees and bushes in a selected area, I mapped out some nearby fruit trees and took to the streets. Friday was a sort of test run, as it was my first time using the website. The site, which after asking for your zipcode and desired radius, displays a google map along with cartoon-like trees that indicate the type of fruit one can expect to find there. My first stop was a mulberry tree, but since mulberries are out of season it was particularly difficult to spot. The raspberry bush as well, being out of season, was camouflaged among the other shrubs. So far I was at a loss for fruit; though if these plants were indeed of the fruit bearing varieties, regardless of my poor timing, then neighborhoodfruit.com was at least proving to be a trustworthy resource.

I soon arrived at an arborous patch of park, on the east side, behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There I found an apple tree, bearing a handful of apples high up and out-of-reach. I tossed up a rock to knock down a couple of specimens, and sure enough the apples were tart and crisp – as apples are. I ate my freshly foraged apple and was filled with an appley satisfaction.

Late summer may not be the best time of year to forage for fruit, at least not for an amature forager, but there are and were still plenty of edible species. The following day I met up with Lars and, traveling by bike, hit up several more neighborhoods in search of fruit trees. We found a tasty and abundant fruit called Hawthorne (similar to crabapple) and filled our bags to the brim. We also found fig and peach trees, though neither had any edible morsels.

On a subsequent trip to Central Park, Lars and I picked up some delicious wood sorrel, as well as some lambsquarters, mugwort, and a couple of pounds of acorns, for which to make acorn flour. Given we are still newbies to the vast world of wild edible plants, I am confident that these expeditions, and the bounty we receive, will enable us to conduct a hyperlocal dinner of the highest caliber and a truly local terroir.

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