by Malcolm Jolley

Does anyone fancy a little Hemerocallis fulva? I mean, of course, day lily, the bright orange (or red, or yellow or bright coloured and striped) flowers that pop-up right around now. In China and Southeast Asia, the flower has been used in cooking forever, often translated as golden needles and an important ingredient for moo shu pork. But we, in the West, are so conservative with our flower eating – a few nasturtiums here and there, and not much else. Both day lilies and begonias featured prominently in a salad Canadian foodways expert and author Anita Stewart made for me recently, when I interviewed her about Food Day Canada.

Not only did the day lilies provide enrapturing visual pleasure, they’re quite tasty: pleasantly bitter with a touch of a nutty undertone that reminded me of mache. Anita had pulled off a few day lilies from her front garden, then she bent down to attack a bung of scarlet begonias: the bright red petals added even more vibrant colour, but they were there for more than just eye candy. The begonias turned out to have a sharp, citric tartness that provided a delicious zing. Both these plants are at their peak right now, if you have either in your garden, give them a try. Just pluck and tear the petals and mix them up with whatever else is in your bowl. Pretty, delicious fun.

Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the non-profit organization that publishes GFR. Follow him at Photo: John Gundy.