At Specialty Produce, our goal is to sow excitement for unfamiliar fruits, vegetables, and even flowers, which offer a whimsical element in cooking and mixology that is often dismissed as simple décor. Yet many regular garden residents are rooted in sensational stories uniquely entwined with the narrative of humanity—stories of rejuvenation and growth, like spring itself, bring a bite of history to our present-day plate.
Take the Victorian era, when budding advances in technology blossomed in the economic and cultural revolution, changing the way people lived, worked, and even gardened. Innovative greenhouses allowed delicate plants to survive through harsh winters and seeded demand for non-native species from faraway lands. As gardening gripped the nation, orchids became so obsessively sought after as a symbol of luxury, beauty, and exclusivity that it was dubbed “orchidelirium.” Queen Victoria appointed orchid hunters to search the world for new varieties as they fought natural dangers and fierce competition from fellow hunters, who ruthlessly ransacked and nearly decimated populations of the plant. Lucky for us, orchids now grow in almost every region of the world and garnish our desserts and drinks with a mild, botanical taste of Victorian luxury.
Flowers are also often considered a universal language, as they hold symbolic meaning that transcends cultures stemming back thousands of years, from the teachings of Buddha to the works of Shakespeare. Tussie-mussies, small bouquets of flowers carried near the nose to protect from unpleasant odors, were romanticized in the Victorian era as they were gifted to ladies by gentleman callers who relied on the language of flowers to share secret messages. Pansies, in particular, were favored to show love and desire (feelings that were taboo to express directly under the strict social etiquette). Today, pansies still flirt with our senses with their tender texture, delicate perfumed scent, and subtly sweet, tangy, vegetal flavor.
This spring season, cultivate your appetite for growth inside and outside the kitchen. We invite you to visit our warehouse to explore our colorful collection of edible flowers and download the Specialty Produce App for a fresh perspective of what’s on your plate—and how it got there!