I’ve got a good one for you guys, a joke I’ll give to you — for free! — to use as we get back into hosting and habiting friendly gatherings. Ready?
April showers bring May flowers and what did the Mayflower bring...?
Historical rumor is that this twist on the classic childhood zinger holds true. It is thought dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) first came to North America in 1620 as passengers aboard the Mayflower, providing vital vitamins and minerals for the pilgrim settlers  once the plants took root in the ‘New’ World. It wouldn’t be hard to squeeze dandelions onto the menu of your next Thanksgiving meal now, either; the dandelion is edible from flower to root, bearing leaves of a “slightly astringent flavor prized by salad eaters, Canada geese, and porcupines” , alike. Among just a few of the recipes offered to The New York Times Cooking subscribers: a “generous bunch of dandelion greens,” alongside onion, mushrooms, garlic cloves, and Gruyère for a delicious tart; a dandelion salad with beets, bacon, and goat cheese toasts; dandelions puréed with fava beans; and one that particularly caught my eye, “Southern” Dandelion Greens with Crispy Onions. The flowers are said to be delicious fried in batter, the greens taste best blanched (to remove bitterness) or sautéed like a spinach or a kale.
Dandelions also became quite popular during America’s Prohibition era, so popular in fact that a report from Detroit in 1923, nestled among other notices in The New York Times, remarked on the city’s need for more garbage men just to handle all the dandelion mash being thrown away on nearly every city block. In 1919, proactive American soldiers in Germany picked up recipes for loewenzahnwein (dandelion wine) in anticipation of “difficulty in obtaining any sort of liquid refreshment of a cheering nature when they reach[ed] home” [see this article in my collection of NYT dandelion pieces, The Daily Dandelion, below]. No longer restricted to home brewing and speakeasies today, dandelion wines continue to delight.
Welcome to Planted!
Hello, Katherine here! An ecologist and anthropologist by training, I am here to talk about plants: broadly, how they shape human spaces and persist within them, and, more personally, how they are helping me feel at home (one might say, rooted) as I adapt to life in NYC.