The Aesthetic Charm of Eating These 15 Flowers
The beauty of some flowers is not entirely useless. Their culinary use is essential for the nutrition of parts of us that are frequently neglected.
If one studies flowers one realizes that there are some that are more beautiful than they need to be. Like the poppy, with its almost violent hue and its lofty elegance, flowers become separate from their primitive purpose and incline toward beauty. They are like a little perversion. But their diminutive frivolity extends to the rest of living beings, above all to humans, who are attracted to them to the extent of not only cutting them and taking them home, but also of wanting to eat them.
The culinary use of flowers dates back to China, Greece and Rome thousands of years ago, but it has always been present in traditions around the world. Hibiscus is eaten in Africa, Latin America and China. We eat watercress, those orange squash blossoms, and pansies. Moringa is a popular ingredient in the Indian subcontinent. The strange thing about this is that there is not a lot of energy in these flowers. They lack carbohydrates and proteins and usually have few minerals. So we eat flowers for the very same reason that they exist: they are beautiful, and that is enough.
That beauty is not purely visual, however. In addition to their shapes and colors, flowers smell delicious, which is an essential part of cuisine, while some have slightly bitter or spicy tastes, adding an extravagant touch to the dishes they adorn.
Unfortunately, not everything that is beautiful is edible; some of the most beautiful flowers are poisonous, although they are also medicinal if used correctly. But those that lose their ephemeral uselessness on our palate can be combined so that their beauty becomes a different end in itself.
Eating flowers is an aesthetic charm, and literally feeding on that charm is a form of subversion. And precisely because they are not especially nutritious or especially tasty, eating them is a way of reconciling ourselves with that capricious beauty, of flowing in harmony with their ephemeral phenomenon. And instead of always seeking the flavorful satisfaction of food, or the nutritional obsession for ‘superfoods’, let us eat out of aesthetic admiration, for a change.
These are some edible flowers:
- Chrysanthemum (only the petals are eaten, and which are a little bitter or taste of pepper)
- Orange blossom (citrus flowers are sweet and aromatic. They are used in small quantities to not over-perfume a dish.
- Elderflowers (flowers and leaves. Soft, sweet flavor)
- Gladiola (only the petals, which have a light taste)
- Hollyhock (the petals have a subtle and vegetal taste)
- Carnation (the petals are sweet when the base is removed)
- Nasturtium (the most popular of all, sweet with a touch of pepper)
- Marigold (remove the white base and eat the petals)
- Roses (only the petals)
- Alliums (of the onion, garlic and leek species; all of the flower is edible)
- Sunflowers (shoots, petals, seeds)
- Violet (the entire flower, which is sweet)
- Lavender (sweet, spicy and perfumed)
- Squash blossoms (all of the flower and the upper part of the stalk)
- Lilly (the flowers are spicy, infused with a citric aroma)
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