This Sunday marks a very special day: A day in which we recognize Mom for all the things she did, and still does, for us. As I was perusing the many gift ideas Google has so graciously provided, I saw two recurring gift ideas: flowers and food (more specifically, brunch).
As a food columnist and avid proponent of all things food, one would assume I would automatically go for the food gift, but I’ll have you know there is a special place in my heart for flowers as well. So, I’m left with a tough choice, but being the bright Cal Poly student I am, I did what any other Mustang would do; I combined them and went for the best of both worlds — edible flowers.
At first glance, eating flowers sounds a tad absurd, but when you get down to it, we eat fruits that are part of flowering plants, and dried flowers can often be found in many teas, which makes the idea not too farfetched after all. Although, like many foods that are gathered from the floor of nature, there is a potential danger as not all flowers are edible. Take a moment to discover the world of edible flowers in order to give Mom a gift that is not only delightfully beautiful but will also make her taste buds sing.
Dating back to cultures in 140 B.C., eating flowers is old news to humanity as a whole. But if you’re anything like me, I’m a flower-eating novice — though I do distinctly remember growing up on sweet honeysuckles (but not the berries which are actually poisonous).
As a flower novice, it is vital to research the flowers you plan to eat and make sure they are indeed a safe variety. These edible varieties do not include the flowers from your florist. They also don’t include any buds sprayed with pesticides. One of the best ways to obtain edible flowers is to actually grow them yourself (this method may have to wait until next Mother’s Day for some of us).
If you don’t have the time or willpower to grow your own edible flowers, they are increasing in culinary popularity, and some varieties are easier to get a hold of than others. One popular type, the squash blossom, is commonly found during its season right here in the streets of San Luis Obispo at Farmers’ Market. This particular blossom actually ends up tasting like the squash it comes from; just as if you let a basil plant blossom, it tastes like basil, but with a little more spice.
There are many common herbs that if allowed to blossom, add quite a style to salads and other dishes; however, I am particularly drawn to the flowers that seem too pretty to eat, but actually are. Some of these include roses, violets, pansies, hibiscus and even dandelions. These flowers can be candied, placed on top of cakes, cookies and ice cream and add not only decorative beauty but delicious flavor.
Many of these flowers are not uncommon and are not too hard to get your hands on, but I do want to remind you that before you go picking the flowers on the side of the road or from your neighbor’s garden, do some research and be sure it is a bud that will tickle your tastebuds and not turn your tummy. This Mother’s Day, I encourage you to remind Mom just how much you appreciate her by giving her the flowered cake and letting her eat it too.