When I was a kid, Sam used to come in one morning each spring with a bucket or basket or flannel shirt brimming with locust blossoms. We would mix up pancake batter, dip the sweet blossoms, cook them on the griddle, and then eat them with honey or maple syrup. Locusts bloom suddenly and fleetingly, so fritters were a surprise spring breakfast party.
Yesterday, I noticed a familiar scent in the air and glanced up and saw the tree above me bedecked with white blooms. Locust blossom season, I realized, my mouth watering.
Since I'm not a dairy farmer, I'm not often up wandering around in the woods before my children are awake, so I didn't come in from the morning mist with a load of blooms, but this afternoon I tried to replicate this spring celebration with my own kids. My two-year-old and I picked blossoms at the river park on our way to pick his brother up from school. Then, in the spirit of the spontaneous festival, we kidnapped my husband from his office a couple hours early and set out to fritter away the afternoon.
My husband didn't grow up eating flowers for breakfast once a year, so he was a little skeptical, but once he found out that Mark Bittman the Minimalist himself had a recipe for fritters (though it is hardly so minimalist as my father's recipe above), he was on board. We just had to run out for Grand Marnier first, whatever that was.
Although this recipe is far more elegant than the one I remember, it isn't difficult and the result--made light with beer and whipped egg whites--plays to the tenderness of the flower. But the recipe, and whether or not you first soak your blossoms in liqueur, is hardly the point. The point is making a special meal that called attention to the season. Locust blossoms don't come on a particular day each year that can be scheduled ahead. The point is to acknowledge the source of our food--even living in a non-agricultural place as I do, to allow for awe in the bounty and abundance of the natural world that, if it weren't for that sudden, memory-stoking scent, we might forget to notice and appreciate.
|Plucking blossoms (the stems have toxins in them--who knew?!).|
|Sweet, subtle locust blossom fritters.|
|Delivering fritters to the neighbors.|
- Post by Molly.