Eat This

Just for looks?

Greens

What we took for a centerpiece at a recent al fresco lunch* turned out to be an appetizer—baby carrots, tiny radishes, and micro-greens planted in an edible “dirt” made out of dried malt and chocolate. It was granular and only slightly sweet, not at all like the crushed cookie dirt used for kids’ parties. It was haute cuisine dirt. I ate some of it; the taste was pleasant, and a good contrast to the sharp immature vegetables.  

Edible dirt makes me think of edible flowers. While I enjoyed the surprise of the edible planter, I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to create and serve my own fake dirt. I feel almost the same about flowers. I’ve eaten quite a number and I think as a whole they work much better as ornamental plants than as salad or stir-fry components. Violets might be my favorite; they’re at least delicate and not overly chewy like marigolds and daylily buds. Texture is the issue I have with most edible flowers. Most of them feel like you’re eating under-ripe green beans or something like that.  Crunchy without being crisp somehow. And there is rarely a discernible taste to compensate.

Of course, deep frying would likely make any of them yummy, but that doesn’t count. I can’t think of any edible flower that I don’t enjoy much more in an ornamental arrangement than I do as an ingredient. But I bet there are plenty of flower cuisine defenders out there, right?

*Here's a description of the entire lunch.

Posted by on September 19, 2011 at 5:00 am, in the category Eat This.
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10 Responses to “Just for looks?”

  1. eliz says:

    Yeah, OK. They do have some taste.

  2. John says:

    “deep frying doesn’t count” – what? since when?

    Outside of nasturtiums and violets, fried-stuffed squash/pumpkin flowers are the only ones I’ve found worth the trouble.

  3. Linda in Anacortes says:

    I always feel the need to look over the flowers put in my salad – once there was one the looked suspiciously like a larkspur. And on the theme of things in salads, why the pea vines? Nasty things that catch in my teeth and have been on some lists as poisonous.

  4. anne says:

    Flowers as garnishes don’t interest me at all–I agree that they are mostly flavorless decorations that I would enjoy more as table decoration. But years ago I made some unforgettably delicious and beautiful rose petal jam. It took a lot of rose petals, and since I only used ones that weren’t sprayed, it was hard to find that many. Other than that, it comes to mind that broccoli and cauliflower are flowerbuds, and very tasty too.

  5. UrsulaV says:

    Interesting! Very haute cuisine…

    I grow nasturtiums, and in my yard they’ve got quite a burn, since I water irregularly at best, but I’ve honestly never found much of anything I wanted to put them in. I grow them mostly because they’re glorious looking.

    Now, I just recently heard of anise hyssop flowers being cut up into salads, which I found interesting–they’re a bigger flower and if they taste anise-y, might be interesting, although I have no idea what the texture would be like.

  6. anne says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention, artichokes are also flower buds :) Yum!

  7. Earth Girl says:

    Pair the peppery nasturtiums with an herbed cream cheese. Yum! A friend fills the bloom and twists the ends. Now you make me wonder how this would taste fried!

  8. Sarah says:

    I like nasturtiums. They’re just the tiniest bit peppery. Mostly, though, I haven’t experimented with them. It’s on the low-priority must-do list. :)

  9. I like to eat selected flowers while I’m working in the garden: few borage flowers here, some rosemary flowers there, a nasturtium or two, a handful of violas.

    But I’ve brought a selection of edible flowers to a potluck and one person remembered me 5-6 years later because of that!

    It’s also fun to sprinkle a few flowers on a salad at the last minute — more to feed the eye. Most of them wilt quickly.

    When I was giving a cousin a tour of my garden and offered her a nasturtium, she said, “you first.”

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