April 5, 2013

National Dandelion Day

“It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren, stony street, to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun." - Henry Ward Beecher

It's National Dandelion Day!

You'll notice that there's some flower in your food holiday today. This isn't an accident. Dandelions are totally edible and can be consumed in a variety of ways like in jams, salads, or even soups!

When my mom was growing up, her godmother from France lived next door. When she would see my mom playing outside, she would come out and say to her, "Delcia, viens maider ramassez des pissenlits." My mom would then duck over to her's aunt yard and help her pick dandelions (not entirely out of the ground, though; they would simply break off the heads and take some stems and leaves), so she could make soup. She would always ask my mom to try a taste of it, but my mom would always politely decline because she thought her aunt was saying "piss en lit" - which in some French dialects means "to pee in the bed." As a result, my mom (remember, a child then) thought dandelions would either a) make you pee the bed, or b) that the soup would taste like pee.

Oddly enough, her experiences consuming dandelions didn't end there. Later in life - during her Gap Year - when she was working at a fishing camp on an island off Rangeley Lake here in Maine, she got to help make dandelion wine. In the Spring, she and her housemates picked, cleaned, and fermented dandelions in some pure grain alcohol ("the kind that would take the rust off a bumper," she explained) until July 4th at which point they drank it. "To say that it was wine is a disservice to wine," she said. "It tasted like earthy, soily everclear; and, it was molten lava that caused your entire gut to burn. So we mixed it with Chablis and - while still potent - was much more palatable. We drank it for the rest of the summer."

Since there aren't any dandelions growing here yet (soon, though!), I settled on some dandelion tea which supposedly helps detox both the liver and the kidneys. In all honesty, that dandelion "wine" my mom made 'lo those many years ago sounded like it also helped with some kind of inner cleansing, too!

Happy National Dandelion Day!