Eating Flowers

from-our-gardenAlessandra, a neighbor of ours in Umbria, is a wonderful cook.

That’s a redundant statement, as virtually everyone in Umbria cooks well. Wait, let me qualify that — virtually every woman in Umbria is a wonderful cook. Boys were urged by their mothers to do other things — careers and such — whereas the girls fashioned ravioli with their nimble fingers before they learned to walk.

Anyway, Alessandra once served us an appetizer of various flora — zucchini flowers, sage and basil leaves — that were dipped in the lightest, most elegant batter I have ever tasted and then flash fried. They were appetizing indeed. When I pressed her for the batter recipe, she said, “It’s simple to remember — everything is one.”

As I struggled to comprehend this Zen concept, she scribbled the recipe on a napkin, which I still have.


1 cucchiao d’olio
1 cucchiao di grappa
cento grammi di farina
un pizzico di sale
acqua ad occhio

I will translate:


1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of grappa
100 grams of flour (4/5 of a cup)
a pinch of salt
water to the eye

Just add the oil, grappa and salt to the flour in a bowl; slowly add cold water, stirring with a fork until you get the consistency you want, which is a thinnish batter that pours rather than a thick one that would make a pancake. It should generously coat a spoon.

If you don’t have grappa, vodka is an okay substitute, although I recommend you buy some good grappa. Then you’ll have it around for this recipe as well as for medicinal purposes.

We have some nasturtiums growing in our herb garden and we fried them up — along with sage and basil leaves and it worked beautifully.

However, I don’t think you can just eat any old flower — only certain kinds. So don’t let me hear about any of you chowing down on your tulips, okay?


Michael Tucker is an actor and author whose recent novel is "After Annie."  He writes about his love of food on his blog Notes from a Culinary Wasteland.