Voracious this year is celebrating our local farmers markets with a series of poems extolling what's newly ripe and ready for sale . Each week


Producing Poetry: Borage Isn't Just a Pretty Flower

Voracious this year is celebrating our local farmers markets with a series of poems extolling what's newly ripe and ready for sale. Each week during market season, we'll run a poem from a local poet who's found inspiration in the region's bounty. And should you find yourself feeling similarly inspired after reading their odes to romaine lettuce, nectarines, pea vines and gooseberries, the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance has provided us with recipes featuring each of the edible muses.

Pictured here is the borage which grows in poet Muriel Nelson's garden. Lots of gardeners plant borage, but it's usually not because they like its taste: Borage's blue booms are so pretty that many gardeners treat it as a flower, and its nectar so sweet that other gardeners use it to distract bees from squash and strawberries. Borage is also believed to improve the flavor of tomatoes planted around it.

Yet borage's flowers and leaves are safe to eat, whether in ravioli or a Pimm's Cup. The Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance has provided us with a recipe for borage chimichurri, which you'll find on the last page of this post.

How does it taste? Read on for a more poetic description than we might manage. Nelson's work has appeared in the The New Republic, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Seattle Review, The National Poetry Review,and several anthologies. A graduate of the the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, Nelson has published two collections of poems: Part Song, winner of the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Book Prize (Bear Star Press, 1999), and Most Wanted, winner of the ByLine Chapbook Award (ByLine Press, 2003).


by Muriel Nelson

Odorlessness of oxygen,

cold taste of cucumber,

touch of moth -- tender,

barely felt, nearly

soundless in the mouth --

the appearance of borage in the garden is

like a multitude of eyes.

To eat or drink any flower is odd.

But to take this one in wine or salad

not for courage, but for color,

is to take this bloom forgetful

of its lore as it flies

on a breeze whole,

as eyes take eyes

with a glance,

and naturally,


particle by particle,



Borage Chimichurri

From Hank Shaw,

Chimichurri is an Argentine sauce typically used with red meat, but it is also excellent with fish and seafood. The traditional recipe always has parsley, garlic and oregano. This recipe makes about 2 cups.

Prep Time: 10 minutes


1/2 cup water

1 t. salt

4-6 garlic cloves

1 cup parsley or borage or watercress leaves

1/2 cup oregano leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried)

2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes, or 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil


Heat the water and dissolve the salt in it. When it is cool enough to stick your finger in, proceed with the chimichurri.

Put everything except the olive oil into a food processor and buzz to combine -- you can puree it or leave it chunky. Your choice.

With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil and buzz for 30 seconds to a minute. Allow it to marinate for a few hours before serving. Chimichurri should hold up for a week or two in the fridge.

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