Floral Cuisine

Among the traditional offerings to Buddhist deities, spirits, and the manes of the ancestors, flowers and fresh water are essential items. Flowen, however, also play an important part in the making of popular dishes, which deserve a chapter in the famous “Physiologic du gout, ou meditation de gastronomic transcendante” (Physiology of taste, or meditation on transcendental gastronomy) by Brillat Savarin, that epicurean magistrate who was as conversant with refined cuisine as he was devoted to belles lettres.
Before touching on the subject of “edible flowers,” I would like to teh the reader that traditional Vietnamese medicine regards certain items of everyday food as part of its pharmacopoeia.
Flowers of the grapefruit tree (buoi), which smell so sweet on moonlit night in late spring, are distilled and made into an essential oil which given an exquisite flavour to various dishes served at dessert (soft jelly or porridge made with flour).
Flowers of frangipani, which grow mostly on the grounds of temples and pagodas, are used to make infusions with anti-hypertensive properties.
Lotus seeds are candied, cooked in syrup, or used as stuffing for cooke chicken. They are thought to have a sedative effect. Lotus stamens are lik wise associated with certain medicinal properties and are used in the comp sition of medicaments against uterine bleeding and loss of virility.
Jasmine, regarded by people of the old school as the symbol of lo morals, gives a pleasant flavour to tea and sweetmeats.
White roses, steamed with a bit of sugar-candy, make good cough s for little children.
Banana flowers are sliced into thin strips and made into a tasty salad. Floweres of luffa (muop) and a kind of pumpkin (bi ngo) are often eaten at meals served in peasant homes.
In particular, soup cooked with flowers of odoriferous cynanchum (Thien ly), a climbing plant which grows on bamboo trellises and pergolas, evokes in me childhood memories, somewhat like the buns named madeleines in Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past.” The best Thien Ly soup are cooked with rice paddy crabs and fresh water shrimps. Boiled in water and eaten with a pounded mixture of roast sesame and salt, Thien Ly flowers are thought to be good for the treatment of gout.
Come to discover the Floral Cuisine with Vietnam 12 day itinerary