Monk’s beard. A thin, wild spring grass, a type of chicory, looking like a cross between samphire and tumbleweed, from northern Italy. It has a bitter flavour, bearing some relation in texture and taste to samphire, succulent and pleasantly resistant to the bite, and is eaten raw, blanched for seconds and dressed, or stewed in olive oil. It is also a useful addition to salads. It has a very short season which seems to be quite specifically five weeks in spring. Only the leaves are eaten as the texture of the stems is rubbery. The flowers are not eaten. It needs to be well washed as it is inclined to harbour dirt.

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