The British media is like an excited labrador with a sock in its mouth right now. The Italians would just shrug their shoulders and say “è primavera” translating literally as: ‘it’s spring’ but actually meaning: ‘and that is why you’re behaving so weirdly.’ If I read another weekend supplement article on edible flowers or foraging and how “it’s more than just a fad” it will be roses at dawn. Stuffed down the throats of unoriginal journos, thorns and all.
For us country folk, yes, lucky enough to be surrounded by clouds of bluebells as I write, it’s not news. Yes, snowdrops were out earlier and yes, some canny countryside properties have been flying off the back of this natural phenomenon like a sparrowhawk to a blue tit: snowdrop walks, snowdrop T-shirts, snowdrop mugs; the death of the snowdrop as we know it.
Reading the Sunday supplements is akin to watching Country File: take the countryside, wrap it up (preferably in cling film sprayed with some anti-bacterial wash) and feed the pretty bits to the consumer. Remember cupcakes? Well edible flowers are the new vacuous candy-coloured replacement but even better because they are ‘natural’ and the grey jagged corners of London will be softened in the glow of a purple viola or the warmth of an orange nasturtium. Dream on and do some proper cooking.
Stuff your weedy nasturtiums Waitrose, or your ‘aromatic salad’ M&S, the real deal are Roman style stuffed courgette flowers: these fleshy yellow cornets are filled with pecorino, anchovies and breadcrumbs, battered, fried and then served. This is a proper edible flower but you’ll have to wait for them. I have huge respect for the microleaf industry and the advances in taste that collectives such as Cornwall’s wonderful Buttervilla Funky Leaves have pioneered on the plate, but to reduce such creative potential to boxes of violas on a Waitrose shelf just feels a little bit limp. Come on you city pansies, get some dandelion, wild garlic or gorse flowers down you for a real taste of flower power.