School’s out! And with the summer holiday comes the slowing down of the days, the blurring of our year-long schedules, and the sheer joy of hanging out and doing nothing. It is the kids who are off school but nothing to stop mom from enjoying the perks of the sumer hols as well! Only one phrase comes to mind – lotus eaters. In Greek mythology the Lotus Eaters were a tribe that lived on an island where the primary food was the lotus plant – being narcotic in nature, it kept the islanders in a perpetual state of relaxation and drowsiness…therefore the phrase, referring to a life of indolence.
While in the mood of flower eating I must share with you my fresh Italian discovery – zucchini fiori. A vivid orange and red with lacy petals, these flowers are a delight for the eyes and certainly for the palate. Every week I find myself irresistibly drawn to them at the market, and come home with a big bagful.
Interestingly, there are male flowers and female flowers; the female of the species is showy and robust – it has a small zucchini attached.
The male flower by contrast, is delicate and more subtle in it appeal.
Zucchini fiori are as delicate as they look – so they need to be handled with care. Essentially that means – don’t squash them in the shopping bag, use them the day they are bought, rinse them gently in water, and use a light touch when cooking them.
I’ve tried many different recipes with them – friend in tempura batter (yum!), steamed and added to a salad (nice!), in an omlette or stir fry (loses all its special appeal), but my favourite really has to be sautéed flowers – lightly cooked in olive oil with an onion and a small amount of crushed garlic, and topped with bit of lemon juice and salt. As a light appetizer or a side dish /salad, it’s perfect for the summers. Enjoy your holidays!
And if you’re up to it, read this little extract from Tennyson’s poem Lotus Eaters which describes how some mariners are put into an altered state when they eat the lotus.
- Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
- Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave
- To each, but whoso did receive of them
- And taste, to him the gushing of the wave
- Far far away did seem to mourn and rave
- On alien shores; and if his fellow spake,
- His voice was thin, as voices from the grave;
- And deep-asleep he seem’d, yet all awake,
- And music in his ears his beating heart did make