Just for looks?

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What we took for a centerpiece at a recent al fresco lunch* turned out to be an appetizer—baby carrots, tiny radishes, and micro-greens planted in an edible “dirt” made out of dried malt and chocolate. It was granular and only slightly sweet, not at all like the crushed cookie dirt used for kids’ parties. It was haute cuisine dirt. I ate some of it; the taste was pleasant, and a good contrast to the sharp immature vegetables.  

Edible dirt makes me think of edible flowers. While I enjoyed the surprise of the edible planter, I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to create and serve my own fake dirt. I feel almost the same about flowers. I’ve eaten quite a number and I think as a whole they work much better as ornamental plants than as salad or stir-fry components. Violets might be my favorite; they’re at least delicate and not overly chewy like marigolds and daylily buds. Texture is the issue I have with most edible flowers. Most of them feel like you’re eating under-ripe green beans or something like that.  Crunchy without being crisp somehow. And there is rarely a discernible taste to compensate.

Of course, deep frying would likely make any of them yummy, but that doesn’t count. I can’t think of any edible flower that I don’t enjoy much more in an ornamental arrangement than I do as an ingredient. But I bet there are plenty of flower cuisine defenders out there, right?

*Here’s a description of the entire lunch.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on September 19, 2011 at 5:00 am, in the category Eat This.


  1. I always feel the need to look over the flowers put in my salad – once there was one the looked suspiciously like a larkspur. And on the theme of things in salads, why the pea vines? Nasty things that catch in my teeth and have been on some lists as poisonous.

  2. Flowers as garnishes don’t interest me at all–I agree that they are mostly flavorless decorations that I would enjoy more as table decoration. But years ago I made some unforgettably delicious and beautiful rose petal jam. It took a lot of rose petals, and since I only used ones that weren’t sprayed, it was hard to find that many. Other than that, it comes to mind that broccoli and cauliflower are flowerbuds, and very tasty too.

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