Buckthorn. Nothing but buckthorn.


We arrived in Rambin famished so as soon as we’d parked our bikes and dumped our bags, we set out in search of food.

Our holiday cottage was located on Hauptstrasse, or “Main Road.”

Such terms are, of course, relative.

The street did boast a bakery, which was shut when we arrived and appeared to sell little more than herring sandwiches anyway.

The other option was the farmers’ market a few doors down.  LSB and I had been hoping for a hearty meal to round off our day of travel misadventure with Deutsche Bahn.

Housed in an expansive building with traditional roofbeams, and featuring several aisles of attractively packaged products, it would surely satisfy our needs.

But the more we browsed, the more we encountered the same word: Sanddorn.

Buckthorn Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution: Svdmolen http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hippophae_rhamnoides-01_(xndr).JPG#file

Buckthorn Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution: Svdmolen http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hippophae_rhamnoides-01_(xndr).JPG#file

It was printed on jam jars,  bottles, tins and boxes.

“What is Sanddorn?” I asked.

LSB wasn’t sure either but we agreed that we recognised it from a health-food context and that its properties were generally considered benign.

We didn’t have an Internet connection, so it wasn’t until the next day that we learnt that Sanddorn was in fact: buckthorn – a regional specialty which grows on chalk cliffs and promises to cure all kinds of bodily ailments.

We didn’t exactly fancy a meal of over-priced condiments and sauces  anyway so  we decided to find an alternative eatery.

We’d passed a few signs advertising a “Pirate Restaurant” on the way to Rambin.

We weren’t sure whether it served anything vegetarian but figured it’d be a safe bet for a plate of chips.

The signs led us through a  little row of houses somewhat off the beaten track.

Every few hundred meters we’d encounter another large arrow pointing in the direction of the pirate restaurant.

After walking for about 20 minutes though, we began to suspect we’d gone wrong somewhere.

Then, finally, we spotted another sign.

Nailed to a fence it read: “PIRATE RESTAURANT – 6 KILOMETERS.”

Displeased and with our stomachs growling, we made our way back to the farmers’ market.

That evening, safely ensconced in our cottage on Hauptstrasse, we feasted on a meal of bread and buckthorn mustard.

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11 thoughts on “Buckthorn. Nothing but buckthorn.

  1. I’m intrigued with the idea of what could be on the menu of a pirate restaurant in N. Germany! Surely you checked it out the next day?

      • Well, it couldn’t have been too impressive as it seems to have no online presence, but there’s one in Berlin! http://pirates-restaurant.de/, the usual “Black Pearl”, and “Captain Hook” attached to various offerings, but some interesting things like “Ed the Fish”, and “Half Duck”. No Buckthorn in sight. Prices are reasonable, though. You owe yourselves some pirate indulgence!

      • I’ve actually been to the one in Berlin – for an overpriced hot chocolate! But now that I know there’s no buckthorn on the menu, it might be time for a second visit 🙂

  2. urgh buckthorn sounds awful. After many years of foraging I’ve come to realize everything in the wild larder either tastes like chicory or raw spinach, and all berries taste like blackberries or worse. I hate to take the shine off wild food but there it is. Bistort is pretty nice, and I like wild garlic and nettle but a bag of spinach trumps everything. Buckthorn I never had though but I’ve had gorse tea. Were you always vegetarian? I’m coming up to my first year vege, absolute triumph I must say, I’ve loved it. Do you still write fiction? Am writing, am editing a magazine called Structo magazine in London, (we’ve got a submissions window open at the moment) and I’ve just finished the second week of my new job and I love it. things are looking up!! thanks for commenting on my now defunct blog.

    • I’ve been vegy for over seven years now; in that time the idea of eating meat has become extremely odd to me. I do still eat dairy and eggs though – not sure I’m ready to make the leap to veganism. What were your reasons for giving up meat?

      Delighted to hear you’re in an editing role now 🙂 That’s wonderful! How are you finding London?Alas, I don’t write any fiction..Wish I did though!

      • Well its based in london, but it’s all done remotely of course so I can be in Manchester still. I doubt I’d go for Veganism, I agree, too much goodness in animal products, and I try to source cruelty free stuff. It was a) that I love animals, b) that I couldn’t kill an animal so didn’t like to have other people do so for me c) it was the only option when you consider the environmental affect of animal agriculture right now d) modern farming, e) my health and f) that I didn’t agree with the allocation of fresh water and grains to cattle when people are starving.

        I agree the idea of meat eating is becoming more foreign as time passes. Only a sub editor though!! but its a good maag dude, if you have a way of PM ing me your address I could send you an old copy I have a few knocking about and its pretty top stuff.

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