by Malcolm Jolley
If you’re a food nerd like me, then you too may wonder why some foods are popular and others are decidedly not. It’s hard to imagine a food less popular, generally, than the much maligned dandelion. Oceans of toxic chemicals are poured over the lawns of North America every year to kill off what could be a delicious salad. It’s not right. People are paying money to destroy food and foul-up the environment. Let’s make salad, not weed war.
Spring is the time to eat and pick “wild” dandelions, since the leaves get more bitter as they grow – unless you like really bitter leaves, or you cook them as the Italians do chicory (which is sometimes called Italian Dandelion). I like the flowers, too: they have a more, um, floral, taste. Anyway, I think it’s fun to eat the weeds in my backyard and I hope more of us will be found hunched over over lawns just before dinner time.
Ten Reasons to Eat Dandelions Now
- Dandelions are free
- Dandelions are as fresh a food as you can possibly get
- Dandelions are as local as you can possibly get
- Small children may be engaged to pick them
- Dandelion flowers, leaves and root may be eaten
- The traditional French accompaniment to dandelion salad are lardons
- If you’re doing the lardons thing, you may as well add a poached egg
- Dandelions’ bitter taste is the perfect foil for the complimenting taste(s) of sour (lemon), salt (cf. lardons, or cheese), umami (cf. poached egg), or chili heat or any combination thereof
- Dandelions are good for you
- Dandelion leaves may be wilted, or incorporated into a simple spring time pasta (a little olive oil, garlic, dandelion and parmesan – see The River Cafe series of cookbooks, etc.)