Would you eat them! Edible flowers. Expensive garnish or Food jewellery.
Today 23rd May 2017 I have decided to almost, not fully, but almost admit there is chance I might stray from my original views on Edible flowers! The question remains that cost & accessibility over sensibility and need, and without question, as I have seen on so many occassions, the added floral tribute will not hide the flaws that may have occurred during a busy session on the pass or a wobbly pannecotta, BUT, I experienced the delights of the ever stunning apple blossom flower last week. The taste was so subtle yet inspiring and the flower itself so delicious in colour, that I felt it could hold its own on a plate. I m in Love.
For fear of upsetting the Maitre de, I found myself whispering across the fabUlous round table of ten, as we entered into a discussion on edible flowers!
Whilst one guest compared her plate and very pricey first course to her view from her elaborate kitchen window, another was very carefully extracting the almost perfectly formed flowers from his plate. It was clear, that whilst some may think these edible flowers are rather pretty others find them a little weird and are quite frankly, an inedible floral tribute and one that should not be on your plate.
Here lies the history.....
So in the culinary world, these flowers were to add both taste & colour to your dish, and without doubt a subtle aroma. The picking and time between coveting and eating is short however, and therein lies one very real problem I have with edible flowers.
Whilst some may feel they are pretty, just one wilted flower can make any dish look old, and without some time spent in the detail, in ensuring you have discarded the stem and stamen found in many, which is bitter in taste, the in experienced cook can ruin what was possibly a fresh, simple and delicious plate.
There is also of course, the over indulgence of edible flowers, and the very real risks involved that come with it.
Borage, and old favourite of mine, simply shallow fried, in a rice flower tempura, can result in numerous trips to the loo should you eat too much. Its diuretic qualities could quite literally wear out the soles of your shoes, and there lies the one rule of thumb all chefs, and budding cooks should follow. Make use of the internet whilst starting the relationship between you and edible flowers, and check what lies ahead! Not wanting to scare monger, but cyanide is mentioned in the blurb, and just like our English language, there are several edible flowers that share the same name but have a very different relationship with the human digestive system. One of "eat me" and the other of "I m not edible at all", not too mention those that have edible bits and non edible bits, on the same plant, just to make your life a little more complicated when adorning your plate. (An example of this is the Japanese honeysuckle, however all other honeysuckles are dangerous and the berries of this one are poisonous)!
So the price! Maybe the price that adorns these flowers is connected to the understanding that what you have purchased from your suppliers at a price for a great pair of Gucci sandals, includes the knowledge that what you have purchased is indeed perfect for eating. The price may also include the nauseating pimping and pruning required to grow these delicate flowers successfully, however, I have yet to taste an edible flower that leaves me wanting more! I have yet to have that discussion about just how amazing that flower was and I have yet to search the web to find a supplier because I just have to have that flower in my life!
So back to our dinner last night and the conversation that resulted in some hilarious restaurant antics but also some serious and appreciative mentions to the very creative Matthew Kenny. There are without doubt some, like Matthew kenny that provide a creative and great use of floral tributes within thier food design, but, the unanimous decision amongst us was that flowers look so much better in fields, adorning vast vases in homes, or indeed being delivered by inter flora to those lucky few.
I know there will be many that disagree, and I m always open to offers to change my opinion and find me the perfect flavourful and unforgetable edible flower.