There is one week in the spring, sometime in May, where I’m driven to distraction by all the acacia and elder flowers lining the roads and fields. They look and smell heavenly, but I’m just praying to find the right opportunity to pick them and fry them before the end of the brief season.
Acacia smells beautiful, reminiscent of orange blossom, with white droplets bunched together like grapes, drooping from the branches. The elder has an unusual smell with large pale yellow lace-like flowers against dark green leaves.
Acacia is everywhere and generally has branches that grow within reach, giving easy access to the flowers. The elder (sambuco in Italian) is more difficult to pick as the bushes tend to grow on steep slopes on the sides of roads, maddeningly just out of reach.
I first fell in love with fried elder flowers when I was little girl in Italy. Not understanding the concept of seasons, I would come home with flowers all year long that to me resembled the fried elder I’d loved so much, hoping these were the ones and my mother would fry them for dinner. I was so often disappointed. Elder isn’t eaten or used much in Tuscany but in the northern regions they make tinctures and syrups of both the flowers and the berries.
This was the week and here are the pictures. We fried up a big batch of them in class yesterday, along with baby artichokes and some huge sage leaves.