Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Marsh Marigold--An experiment

Marsh marigold is one of the first green plants to show its face in the spring and in some spots in New England it is quite plentiful. Unfortunately, we haven't found any big patches nearby. Our housemate thoughtfully gathered a bag for us when she visited her family's summer home in northern Vermont.

Marsh marigold is quite pretty--with big yellow flowers and large, lily pad-like leaves. But when we read reports of how to prepare it we were skeptical. Could something that reportedly tasted so bad actually be called edible? The plant is exceedingly bitter and needs to be boiled in several washes of water before a final boil of 20 to 40 minutes before it is even palatable. But we need 100 edibles, so we tried it.

After boiling it for a few minutes in a first boil, we tried a nibble to see just how bitter it actually was. None present was able to swallow the green, but two of us thought it had promise. I was more scared than before. I even needed to wash my mouth out.

We boiled it again. Rinsed. Boiled again for 30 minutes, and then our friend, Rebecca, had a great idea. She cooked up some Indian spices in coconut oil and made a dahl out of it. We served it over Jasmine rice. We looked at the slimy green mass and dolloped small mounds on our plates. We tasted. wasn't bad. I even had seconds.

But the marsh marigold experiment brought out a great discussion. How did anyone ever discover such a plant was edible? What would compel someone to keep experimenting with something that was so bitter in its raw state. Why would you cook something so incredibly time and energy intensive for an end product that is just okay (and looks disgusting)? It is one of the first greens of the season; if I were truly starving, perhaps I'd be prone to try it. We also wonder how many nutrients are lost in the crazy cooking process? Good "food for thought."

1 comment:

  1. When I was growing up in Manitoba we always had Marsh Marigolds as an early spring green. Now I live in P.E.I. and I came upon a bunch today walking in a boggy area...I picked some delightedly, and cooked a few, forgetting how long it needs as I doubt I ever cooked it before myself. It was quite bitter but, as you say, has promise. I will cook the rest longer...and in a couple of different waters.