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Thursday, May 10, 2018


A tulip-eating dog!
    Years ago we had a puppy which has since gone to Dog Heaven.  One spring I spent about $80 on tulip bulbs which I planted along the back of the house. Arriving home from work one afternoon and looking out the window, I noticed something all over the patio. It turned out that the puppy had dug up every one of the bulbs, carried them over to the patio and crushed them with her teeth. All that is except one which she missed. It blooms every spring. I call it the Brandy Memorial Tulip. 

     Some thing about tulips you may not know: 

1. They are not native to Holland. The first bulb in Holland was a gift from the Emperor of Austria and came from Turkey. A tulip craze began in Holland and they became so popular that vast fortunes were speculated on them. A virus spread among the flowers and many were lost, both tulips and fortunes. 
2. There are over 22 hundred varieties of tulips. 
3. Tulips need to be planted in the fall and new bulbs should be planted every year. The bulb creates a flower, but it also creates baby bulbs and this process exhausts the mother bulb. The baby bulbs take 3 to 7 years to become mother bulbs. 
4. The flowers open and close with sun and shade and with good and bad weather. The process only takes 15 minutes. 
5. There are no black or blue tulips. There is a tulip called the Black Queen of the Night, but it is actually a very deep burgundy. 

     Tulips are edible, but some parts are poisonous. There seems to be a consensus that the petals of tulips are OK to eat and supposedly they range in taste from a mild bean-like taste, a lettuce-like taste or no taste at all. As with everything else, some people are allergic to them and you should never eat flowers that have been treated with fungicide or pesticides.
     However, there are conflicting reports about the bulbs. Some say they're poisonous while others day they are edible if you know what you're doing. Apparently it's a moot point because people who have eaten tulip bulbs say they don't taste very good. 
     During World War II, people in Holland were forced to eat tulips. One Dutch person described it: 
     "Even though much of Western Europe had been liberated from Nazis control, Holland remained under their firm grip. I remember the hunger. We were forced to eat tulip bulbs and sugar beets because there was no other food." 
     "Bread made from tulips is not very good; I can tell you that! The skin of the bulb is removed, pretty much like an onion, and so is the center, because that is poisonous. Then it is dried and baked in the oven. My mother or older sisters would grind the bulbs to a meal-like consistency. Then they would mix the meal with water and salt, shape it like a meatloaf, and bake it. I can still remember the taste of it: like wet sawdust." 
     There are many recipes that use tulip petals: as cups for mousse, accents for tuna, for salad dressing and for appetizers. And, of course, you can make a nice white wine. 
     Bottom line, the petals a safe to use as edible garnishes as long as they haven't been treated with chemicals. The bulbs can be poisonous, but they taste awful even if prepared properly. 

What's Cooking America – edible flower chart

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