A Rose For Every Sense…
This time last month, we came to the end of my gastronomic tour around the world. If you missed it, you can find the start of the tour here. Today, on the day restaurants are opening in England once more following the latest lockdown, I thought I’d bring you a short piece written recently as an exercise for Exeter Writers. A tribute to chefs everywhere…
‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ So says 27 year old William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. And I assume young Will would approve if invited to bury his nose in the wooden box with golden clasp I use for my loose leaf tea. Every boxful is unique. I don’t measure anything. I just throw in a few handfuls of Earl Grey and Assam, plus lots and lots of sencha rose green tea. Drunk weak and without milk, it warms my mornings and wakes me more effectively than any coffee would.
And I suspect the poet Robbie Burns, who told us at the age of 35: ‘My love is like a red, red rose,’ would not be unhappy at the thought of velvety petals gathered from the ground below prolific bloomers and carefully dried and stored in ornate bowls as pot pourri. Or simmered in just enough distilled water to cover them for half an hour, until they lose their colour and leave behind a pale rosewater. Or even for that rosewater to be whisked into warmed coconut and avocado oils with honey to make a moisturizer for my skin.
Sight and Taste
But what, I wonder, would these two young writers think of chef Nick Beardshaw, contestant on the BBC’s Great British Menu, whose starter, a tribute to Bristol author and botanist, Ida Mary Roper, was a pickled rose? So unusual a recipe, I couldn’t even find it on the internet—and that’s not something I say very often. The petals, once brined, retained their colour, if not their texture. Rolled around a goats cheese parfait, with stems and leaves of lovage mousse, accompanied by violet mustard and camomile jelly, it was a sublime picture on a plate. Not a rose as we would recognise it. And probably not as Shakespeare would. Although the Elizabethans cooked many dishes with flowers and fruits, so who knows? But I’m sure both Will and Robbie would have approved of the love with which the dish was prepared—and eaten.