But, hey, I cook you good food.
Chrysanthemum, also known as "mum" in short to save people from such a phonetic trap, is one of the most beloved flowers of China. The history of cultivating it and the history of devouring chrysanthemum in China run equally long. Eating the flower as food can go back to as far as the age of Confucius. A poem by Won Yuen around that era depicts people eating the leaves of chrysanthemum in the autumn. Books later in the Sung dynasty also notes how both the leaves and petals of chrysanthemum were used in the making of wine. Today, the most common way to use the flower is mixing its blossoms with tea leaves in herbal tea. They say the chrysanthemum tea can drive away the heatness in our body and, when used correctly, ensure better vision and healthier liver.
In cuisines from regions like Shanghai and Hangzhou, various parts of the flower are used. The petals and the leaves are often used to garnish soups, enrich the flavor of hotpot's base or to sauteed along with fish. The stems, especially those of from fresh chrysanthemum, are mostly served cold to preserve their freshness and briskness. To make it bites even better, the skins of the stems are peeled off so that only the hearts are used. Since it looks more "silver" than green, it is poetically named the "silver needles." Pictured here is a dish called "silver needles with slivers of greens." This floral dish contains very simple ingredients, namely, some lightly blanched chrysanthemum stems marinated with sesame oil, mingled with a drizzle of slivers of cucumber and red chili. An excellent choice of an appetizer for the hot summer.
Well, trust me, when you have these heaven-sent silvery stems on your dining table, you wouldn't want those flower bouquets anymore...