30+ flow­ers pop

That will make your sal­ads

NZ Lifestyle Block - - DIY FOOD -

We caught onto flow­ers when we ran out of toma­toes. It was an un­likely sub­sti­tute, and at the time I was think­ing colour rather than flavour, wan­der­ing the gar­den for in­spi­ra­tion. I spot­ted a clump of vi­o­las, picked them, and sprin­kled them over our salad. Magic. A sim­ple salad trans­formed.

I have never been much of a flower picker. Ask me to ar­range flow­ers in a vase and I panic. But even a per­son with zero flower ar­rang­ing skills can work magic with a few ed­i­ble flow­ers. I usu­ally pick flow­ers in ad­vance and store them in a sealed plas­tic con­tainer in the fridge, then sprin­kle them over greens just be­fore serv­ing. It re­ally is that sim­ple.

Gar­nish­ing food with flow­ers brings it to life. Some­thing in the translu­cent sheen of the petals makes them ‘pop’ with colour on the plate. Din­ers in the 18th and 19th cen­turies, with­out the ben­e­fit of elec­tric light­ing, knew this. They es­teemed flow­ers for their lu­mi­nous qual­i­ties, with nas­tur­tium de­scribed as an ex­cel­lent colour for candlelight. Our din­ner guests are not so in­formed and in­vari­ably they do a dou­ble take. “What are those? Can you eat them? Are you sure?” It’s fun watch­ing their faces as they eat, and then the con­ver­sa­tion is away and I find my­self teach­ing a spot of botany. Of­ten they want to go out into the gar­den with me to iden­tify and pick them. Some­times it takes a fresh point of view to stum­ble onto some­thing new. A friend vis­it­ing to cel­e­brate my hus­band’s birth­day was let loose on the cake dec­o­ra­tion. Her wan­der through the gar­den re­sulted in a cake dec­o­rated with tiny, whiskered viola faces. Lovely, and it took all of 10 min­utes.

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