I have found a new subtle group of foods that completely fit the bill for summer sensuality. It all started one night while rambling through an urban park. The hour was late-ish, the company and weather fine. I was surrounded by aromatic and visually compelling roses, all colors and sizes. I began with mere quaffing of fragrances. Full and ripe, these roses invited first that I bury my face in their abundant offerings, and then the tasting was inevitable. I overrode my questions of pesticides and chemicals for a walk on the wild side. I plucked a petal from a just-past-her-prime bloom and put it gently into my mouth. Ah! The delicacy, the subtle flavor, the richness! I was hooked. Flower to flower I flitted, like some oversized night pollinating butterfly, sampling the culinary vagaries of the roses.
Of course, we’ve most of us eaten flowers at some point, in a salad or perhaps in ice cream (think the nouveau penchant for lavender). But how many of us eat these delicacies at home? I encourage garden grazing, with the usual caveats: if you don’t know it’s edible, don’t eat it; and of course if you’ve just peppered it with RoundUp, well . . . duh.
What follows is a quick list for making like a bee and getting into flower tasting:
Bee Balm (Monarda species) is similar to bergamot and can be used to flavor tea.
Calendula (Calendula Officianalis) called “poor man’s saffron” the golden or orange petals add a joyful hue to salads and ethnic foods. Peppery in flavor.
Violet (Viola species) are sweet like nectar and of course are spectacular candied.
Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris) are lemony in flavor and dee-lishus in subtle pasta dishes.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) add color and zest like calendula, and young buds can be fried as they taste similar to mushrooms.
Cornflower (Centaurea cynaus) taste sweet and spicy, almost like cloves.
Impress your friends: bring cupcakes with candied violets to next backyard do.
- Wash flowers gently in a basin and drain on paper towels
- When the blossoms are dry, paint a little beaten egg white gently on each blossom and then sprinkle with granulated sugar
- Leave to dry for a few days sitting in a sugar filled tray
- Stored in an airtight jar away from light, they will keep indefinitely