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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about -- edible flowers, which have been enjoyed in many cultures long before there was la cuisine nouvelle.


CURWOOD: Things are a-bloomin' this time of year. And if you want to chow down, consider that edible flowers have a long culinary and medicinal history. The ancient Romans ate them. So did the Chinese. They especially liked chrysanthemums, which are thought to increase longevity and even cause graying hair to turn dark again. And when Spanish conquistador Fernando Cortez arrived in what's now Mexico City, he reportedly found the Aztec ruler Montezuma dining on squash flowers. Now, you've probably already enjoyed some flowers and didn't know it. For example, broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes are all flowers. Capers are the unopened buds of the Mediterranean, you guessed it, caper berry bush. And carnation petals are one of the ingredients used to make the French liqueur Chartreuse. And then there's calendula, cornflower, dandelion, day lilies, freesia, marigolds, nasturtiums and, of course, tulip petals -- which, by the way, make great cups for sorbet. Maybe that's what poet Ezra Pound had in mind when legend has it he devoured all the red tulip petals that were laid out as a decoration. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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