Edible flowers: blooming good recipes
According to Frances Bissell, whose book The Scented Kitchen gives a potted history of cooking with flowers, floral food came to an abrupt stop with the Victorians. Only in the early 1920s did it resurface: primrose vinegar, marigold and nasturtium omelettes, and a 1930s salad of chrysanthemum petals blanched in salted water and mixed with potatoes, artichoke hearts, shrimps and capers.
Bissell includes a modern version of this salad, and it sounds almost as good as her description of the memorable dinner eaten at the legendary restaurant Chez Panisse in California 50 years later. ‘The star of the show,’ she writes, was a ‘salad of tiny leaves and flowers, including rose petals, borage flowers, marigold petals and heartsease… It looked and smelt divine, a shower of fragrant, colourful confetti among the bright green leaves.’ It was invented by Alice Waters, who almost single-handedly re-introduced edible flowers to the modern world, opening the way for the starry experimental foragers working in restaurants such as L’Enclume in Cumbria, Noma in Copenhagen and Fäviken in the wilds of Sweden today.