AT MOST SIT-DOWN RESTAURANTS, A skinny vase containing a flower or two on every table is as common as cutlery and placemats. But occasionally, flowers end up alongside or atop the food. Take an orchid in your cocktail: Some might pick out that orchid and set it aside, or put it into their hair. What they might not know is that the orchid is edible. Actually, according to the upcoming book Edible Flowers: How, Why, and When We Eat Flowers, “all orchids within the genus Dendrobium can be eaten.” That includes, author Monica Nelson writes, the colorful karma orchids so common in tropical drinks.
Orchid flowers (“dense and crisp like endive or watercress”) have their own entry in the book, along with 104 other edible florals. Most people aren’t completely unfamiliar with eating flowers. Around the world, people enjoy fried zucchini flowers, bright red drinks made from hibiscus petals, and sweets flavored with the essence of rose.