I’ve found the first food on my foraging bucket list: wisteria.
It’s not hard to find. I know what it looks like, and it’s in bloom all over Palo Alto. I picked a couple of pannicles from a vine hanging off a local school’s metal fence.
I returned Forage, Harvest, Feast from the library, so I couldn’t reproduce one of Marie Villjeon’s reicpes, but I remember that she said to use only the flowers, as the rest of the plant (seeds and stems) is toxic.
I also vaguely remembered that there was a recipe for wisteria pancakes in the book, so I decided to put the petals in a pancake. I mixed a packed handful of petals into the batter and added some more petals on top for decoration.
Villjeon described wisteria as tasting “uniquely like wisteria.” A google search turned up Tyrant Farms’s post on eating wisteria, and they describe it as “slightly sweet lettuce, with hints of bitter grape and peas.”
Ummm…I don’t really know if I tasted anything at all to be honest. I could smell the fresh wisteria, but once it was cooked into pancake batter, I couldn’t taste very much of a difference from regular pancakes. I even tried a plain raw wisteria petal and it tasted like….mild lettuce, I guess….which is to say, maybe a little bitter….I guess? I am not a very good epicure.
The flowers were very pretty, though, and they turned boring old pancakes into a special celebration of spring! If nothing else, wisteria petals can be used as an edible decoration on cakes or in salads.
I’m going to get Forage, Harvest, Feast out of the library again. There are recipes for wisteria vinegar and concentrated wisteria syrup that I might try…if I do, I’ll be sure to report back.