marxflowers.jpg
Marx Foods
The iconic Valentine's Day gifts are flowers and sweets, but a local specialty foods shop is urging its customers to cover both bases

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Have Your Valentine's Flowers and Eat Them Too

marxflowers.jpg
Marx Foods
The iconic Valentine's Day gifts are flowers and sweets, but a local specialty foods shop is urging its customers to cover both bases with one gourmet item.

Marx Foods this week is making a few varieties of edible flowers available for retail sale; While ambitious home cooks can transform the petals into refined confections, CEO Justin Marx points out chefs whose repertoires revolve around canned goods are able to wring romance from a tuna noodle casserole by garnishing it with violets or snapdragons. Or they might perch a nasturtium on a cupcake.

"The most common application is dessert," says Marx, who's fond of a pansy sorbet from the Herbfarm cookbook. The sorbet, made with sugar, water and lemon juice, is a vibrant magenta that shames the holiday's typical powder pink.

The history of decorative flowers doubling as dinner is long: Egyptians crystallized violets; ancient Greeks gnawed on roses and ancient Romans added lavender to sauces. More recently, Victorians put primroses in their salads and candied violets for their wedding cakes. But the difficulties associated with growing flowers suitable for the plate have helped keep the genre from becoming commonplace.

"Edible flower production is labor and management intensive," explains a University of Kentucky publication for prospective growers. "Planting, weeding and harvesting all require trained labor."

In addition to selling edible flowers, Marx Foods is also carrying carved candy-striped beets for the Valentine's season. Designed for steaming, the vegetables are shaped like hearts and roses.

"It's a cute, cheesy Valentine's side dish," Marx says.

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