A CARPET OF NASTURTIUMS

San Francisco, 24 September 2012

While in San Francisco (see the previous post), we did a few touristy things. One of these was a bus tour of the city. Our guide and driver, a chatty fellow prone to making politically incorrect comments, took us down to the bay shore below the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, he invited us to take advantage of the only toilet stop on the tour and admire what he intriguingly called an excellent example of industrial art nouveau – never heard of that category of art. But what I admired more was a veritable carpet of tropaeolum majus, or garden nasturtiums, tumbling down the slope on the side of the road. I had never seen so many nasturtiums before.

I love nasturtiums. In my previous post, I mentioned my childhood memory of morning glories. Another memory from the same period is of nasturtiums growing luxuriantly up the wall of our house, under my elder sister’s bedroom window (the window through which I spied on her “carrying on” with her boyfriend, who proceeded to give me money for an ice-cream to get rid of me). I fell in love with the flower’s fiery colour scheme, red, orange and yellow, against a background of smooth round green leaves. And at some point, I had learned to pick a flower and suck the nectar out of the nectar spur at its base. It gives your taste buds a delightfully tiny burst of soft sweetness.

I loved nasturtiums so much that when my mother gave me a small strip of land in the garden to plant as I wished I chose to plant nasturtium seeds. I watched carefully as the little plants emerged and started to grow. And I still remember sharply my concern when my parents decided to have a nearby tree cut down. It looked alarmingly like the tree was going to fall on my nasturtiums. I sat there with the whole family, watching the tree cutters proceed. My siblings found the whole thing exciting and chattered along happily. But I was in an agony of apprehension for my nasturtiums. Sure enough, the tree fell on them and flattened them. What misery!

I close with a recipe. I discovered recently that both the flowers and the leaves of nasturtium are edible. This particular recipe is from the following web site: http://fruitandveggieville.blogspot.com/2008/06/flowers-you-can-eat-nasturtiums.html.

“Recipe for a Nasturtium Salad
­       1 lettuce – iceberg, butter or cos
­       small bunch of nasturtiums – leaves and flowers
­       ripe red tomatoes
­       1 tablespoon capers
­       feta cheese

Decide quantities to your own taste. The nasturtium leaves are peppery and the more you put in the hotter the salad gets. Wash and dry the lettuce and tear into the size pieces you prefer. Rinse the nasturtium leaves, and tear or chop into rough strips. If you’re using baby tomatoes halve them, chop bigger ones into cubes. Cube the feta cheese and sprinkle over the salad with the capers. Top with the whole flowers and maybe one or two whole leaves. This peppery, bright salad is just right to accompany pizza, cold meats or as a starter on its own.”

Enjoy!

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Abellio

I like writing, but I’ve spent most of my life writing about things that don’t particularly interest me. Finally, as I neared the age of 60, I decided to change that. I wanted to write about things that interested me. What really interests me is beauty. So I’ve focused this blog on beautiful things. I could be writing about a formally beautiful object in a museum. But it could also be something sitting quietly on a shelf. Or it could be just a fleeting view that's caught my eye, or a momentary splash of colour-on-colour at the turn of the road. Or it could be a piece of music I've just heard. Or a piece of poetry. Or food. And I’m sure I’ve missed things. But I’ll also write about interesting things that I hear or read about. Isn't there a beauty about things pleasing to the mind? I started just writing, but my wife quickly persuaded me to include photos. I tried it and I liked it. So my posts are now a mix of words and pictures, most of which I find on the internet. What else about me? When I first started this blog, my wife and I lived in Beijing where I was head of the regional office of the UN Agency I worked for. So at the beginning I wrote a lot about things Chinese. Then we moved to Bangkok, where again I headed up my Agency's regional office. So for a period I wrote about Thailand and South-East Asia more generally. But we had lived in Austria for many years before moving to China, and anyway we both come from Europe my wife is Italian while I'm half English, half French - so I often write about things European. Now I'm retired and we've moved back to Europe, so I suppose I will be writing a lot more about the Old Continent, interspersed with posts we have gone to visit. What else? We have two grown children, who had already left the nest when we moved to China, but they still figure from time to time in my posts. I’ll let my readers figure out more about me from reading what I've written. As these readers will discover, I really like trees. So I chose a tree - an apple tree, painted by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt - as my gravatar. And I chose Abellio as my name because he is the Celtic God of the apple tree. I hope you enjoy my posts. http://ipaintingsforsale.com/UploadPic/Gustav Klimt/big/Apple Tree I.jpg

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