Nettles and furry caterpillars

11 01 2012

So I was going to write to you tonight about the humble nettle. I was floored the other day by Bunbury claiming he didn’t know what a nettle was. Having decided I wasn’t having my leg pulled (natural first assumption), I pulled up Google and confirmed that the plant in question was indeed unknown to Bunbury. Incredible. A closer read of Wikipedia tells me that although it’s also known as the European stinging nettle, it is in fact very common across Canada as well as all states of the US (except Hawaii, where the traditional grass skirts probably made it a tad inconvenient).

Wikipedia: Stinging Nettle

Wikipedia: Stinging Nettle

Well, I suppose that since I’ve actually begun to talk about the humble nettle after all, I might as well continue. By all means check out Wikipedia for proper made up facts, but my own education regarding nettles is basically thus:

  • They bloody sting when you fall in them
  • It’s inevitable you’ll fall in them (the trees gang up and lift their roots)
  • At least in the UK, they always seem to grow near dock leaves
  • Rubbing dock leaves on nettle stings soothes the pain
  • They’re high in iron, and are supposedly good for you to eat (like spinach)… after you cook them to get rid of the sting!
  • You can make tea or wine out of them
It is only now as I come to realise I’ve seen negligible numbers of dock leaves in and around White Rock’s woods that I realise I’ve not actually fallen into any nettles for around 11 years either. Coincidence? I think not!
Wikipedia: Rumex obtusifolius foliage (dock leaves)

Wikipedia: Rumex obtusifolius foliage (dock leaves)

The only other gem of useless nettle irrelevance I wanted to impart was around cheese. Yes – seriously! We went to a dairy in Cornwall once and bought some Yarg cheese. Sounds a bit piratical I know, but it turned out the family name was Gray, and they weren’t very imaginative. Anyway, one of the ways they made their cheese unique was to cover it in a lovely intricate pattern of… you guessed it… nettles! Apparently one becomes hardened to the continual sting when harvesting the fresh nettles. (Wearing gloves didn’t seem to have occurred to anyone!) As the cheese matures, various natural moulds colour the nettles and help the cheese itself ripen.
I can tell you think I’m making this all up, so here’s their web site where you can even buy it online: Lynher Dairies.
Yarg cheese

Yarg cheese

OK, so now I’m in a fix! Having decided that I wasn’t actually going to write about nettles after all, and having now done so, I’m left with this photo I took of a caterpillar this last summer in Nanaimo. It was to be your consolation prize, just so I would keep my irrelevence index high. I have been accused of having disproportionately luxuriant eyebrows, and this little chap caught my eye because he too seemed to have the affliction. Of course, he didn’t seem to know if he was coming or going either, so the similarity didn’t end there…

Caterpillar

Caterpillar

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14 responses

12 01 2012
misfits' miscellany

Talk about coincidence…I had some nettle cheese yesterday for lunch. Not Yarg, this was arranged differently, the nettle was incorporated into the cheese, the flavouring, not just a covering, anagrammatical or otherwise. And it was very tasty.

12 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

I suspect it was along the feta/spinach lines, was it not? The Yarg nettles, being on the outside, tended to be quite a crumbly, powdery addition, IIRC.

12 01 2012
misfits' miscellany

This was farm-made cheddar, using the local nettles. Good shit for a quesophile, and the nettles were discernible, not mere decoration as spinach often is.

That Laura Davies has things to say, man!

12 01 2012
Laura Davies

Too much probably sometimes.

12 01 2012
misfits' miscellany

Not on your nettley!

12 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

Salivating over here in BC! The cheese here is (i) expensive and (ii) bo-ring!
As for Laura… (i) female, (ii) Welsh (iii) francophile. Just sayin’… 😉
Only joking Laura, it’s all good…

Brazil was interesting. Lots of cows there! Lots of steak, leather, dairy…

12 01 2012
Laura Davies

Would you like a handy hint about nettles? They make great plant food too, the best apparently. You cut off the leaves, soak them in water for three weeks, and then drain off the water, which you should dilute ten parts to one with more water. And you have amazing, smelly, plant food. (It is the worst thing that I have actually smelt, and makes me gag, which is unusual because I do have a strong stomach, and having studied biology have smelt some strange smells, but it is vile, but it does work!).

12 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

Why thank-you Laura. My father, back in the UK, grows comfrey and uses it in the same way.

12 01 2012
12 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

Wow? Nettles not your thing, Heather?

12 01 2012
misfits' miscellany

Thought you might find this mildly amusing or maybe just interesting:

http://howtodateboys.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/typesofboys-self-aware/#comment-58

12 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

I always brush my teeth with blueberry muffins personally. Don’t see the issue… 😉

13 01 2012
misfits' miscellany

I brush my hair with Yarg cheese, it gives me that crumbling, gray look; well, at least develops on it.

13 01 2012
daterofboys

Hahahaha!

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