Free garlic chives in Prospect Park (click to pick)
Disembark the Q train at the Parkside stop, wander through the triumphal gate one block west at Ocean Avenue, and then head north along the paved walkway past the muddy picnic grounds. All around you find a wonderland of wild allium, sticking up in distinctive clumps. There are grass tuffets, too, but the allium stalks have a rounder appearance, and when you pick a stalk and gingerly taste it, it will have a fresh, oniony savor.
Clumps of chives are visible all across this field
The allium, or onion family, falls into many wild varieties, and during the early spring several of theses are to be found in Prospect Park, especially at this location. Fork in the Road found delicate regular chives, sturdier and more odiferous garlic chives, and even wild scallions, all of which are wonderful tossed in salads, lightly sauteed and used in omelets, chopped and sprinkled on tacos, or melted into a toasted cheese sandwich.
Distinguishing among the wild allium is up to you–simply nip off a stalk and taste it. Sometimes you’ll even find wild garlic, which has a small bulb at the end of the green stalk when you extract it carefully from the muddy ground.
Wild scallions vs. wild chives, against a newspaper backdrop