Human Flower Project
Friday, November 30, 2007
Flower Syrup - A Lot to Lick
The East Austin arts tour suddenly took a turn for the sticky.
Bill Bishop and Michael May sample flower syrups made
by Rosie Rittenberry (right) and her mother in Austin, TX
Photo: Julie Ardery
Nudes and batiks and teapots and collages… the East Austin Studio Tour has evolved into something marvelously monstrous. The dozen artists who once worked on the poor side of the city, taking advantage of low rents for their foundries and kilns, have been joined by boatloads of other creative folks. There were over a hundred stops on this year’s open tour. The fold-up map has become a $5 booklet, and many a block north of Lady Bird Lake and East of Interstate 35 was crawling with guests the warm and sunny weekend prior to Thanksgiving.
Just as our spirits flagged, we trotted around behind an old house where a weird passionvine—or so we were told—was laden with crimson seed pods, bright as bobcat hearts. There we found a glamorous young woman ladling jellylike spoonfuls into little plastic cups—the size you gobble pills from. Purple, amber, green—these concoctions were all flower syrups. Rosie Rittenberry and her mother make and sell them, and what a refreshment they were. Our touring companions sampled several, as did we (the passionfruit was scrumptious), but what do you do with the stuff? Rosie provided us with a page of recipes, including “Citrus Flower Chutney,” a cake frosting, and a curry dish.
This one sounds especially good, though we haven’t tried it—yet:
Rosie Rittenberry dolloped out a taste of orange flower syrup
Photo: Julie Ardery
Rose-hips Tea Sandwich
with rose hips and walnuts
1 1/2 c. cooked chicken
1/2 c. celery
1/4 c. rose-hip syrup
1t grated ginger
1/3 c. walnuts
salt and pepper
mayonnaise if desired (we desire)
Spread on good bread with crust removed
(keeping that crust on if you use this bread).
Cut bread into quarters and then top with parsley
Suddenly, the tea party got jazzy!
From our bit of hunting, it seems that flower syrups are most often used to doll up drinks, dress fruit salads, and, of course, top pancakes. Favorite flavors, in addition to those Rosie had to sell, are elderberry syrup, dandelion, hibiscus and lavender (the latter too much like cough medicine for us).
Jennifer Wickes posted this excellent article on the subject several years back. It includes basic directions for making syrups from flowers as well as lists of common edible flowers and (heads UP!) poisonous ones, too. (Having just seen Into the Wild, we’re more than usually wary.)
Many thanks to Rosie for the samples—and the delicious respite from art.