Springtime, and the world is coming in colors. Dashing purple, delicate pink, demure yellow, bold red, pure white … the riotous blend swirls and sways in a slow but eternal dance. It’s almost too much for the eyes, let alone the plate. Yet spring is the time of pretty food, beautiful food, breathtaking food. Come stroll with me and let your senses truly feast.
Outside the door a line of society garlic, with its savory, purple flowers. These will replace chives in tonight’s supper. In the yard next door, the long, deep red flower clusters, humming with bees, of your neighbor’s bottlebrush tree will make an almost minty iced tea to cool the coming heat. Simply stir three of the long flower clusters in a pitcher of water then let it sit for a while in your refrigerator. A spray of pink, four-petaled blossoms creeps across their boulevard, a sign they don’t attack nature with harmful chemicals. This means those pink primrose flowers can safely be added to your salad.
Walk farther, and the field at the edge of the neighborhood comes into view. Lucky chance years ago brought the weathered owner and me together. After walking her land and pointing out all the wild edibles, I earned permission to harvest all I wanted.
Her field’s low edge, running along the always wet ditch, is covered in blackberry flowers, white as wedding dresses. Eight steeped in a cup of hot water make the freshest blackberry tea for a bedtime sip. Remember, though, each flower taken is a fruit that will never come to be. In another part of the field, bee balm, with its clustered balls of light purple flowers, fills the air with a floral scent begging to be used for tea another night. Remember them as even in mid-summer, when the flowers have dried up, the clusters will still retain enough flavor for tea.
And still more flowers await your plate and cup. The sun-drenched hill at the center of the field is crowned with flat sprays of white Queen Anne’s lace. I use their somewhat spicy flavor as an herb, but others make a unique, pink-colored jelly from the tiny flowers. Follow its hairy stem into the ground to find the white, carrot-scented taproot. Why does it smell like carrots? Because it is a carrot back from a time before mankind took a liking to it and meddled in its genetics.
Farther now from civilization, let’s go to the wood’s edge. Tangling through the undergrowth, are the white and yellow flowers of honeysuckle. Remember as a child sipping out their sweet nectar? Why did you ever stop? Go back now to those past springs and recapture the taste of your youth. But now you know that these sweet flowers can also be added to foods ranging from salads to pancakes to curry.
It’s springtime, and not only should your food be young and beautiful, but so should life itself.