The Flower Pot

When the Thais are not growing them for pleasure, wearing them, abstracting them into symbols, or using them ceremonially, there is something else they like to do with flowers: eat them. The bright magenta stamens of the mamio or rose-apple flower and the huge, waxy bloom of the torch ginger plant are made into yam, or hot-sour salads; chrysanthemums and jasmine are dried and steeped in hot water to make teas; white flowers shaped like parrots' beaks are taken from the mimosa-like khae tree and cooked into the hot-sour-sweet, soupy dish called gaeng som dawk khae; and the heavy purple inflorescence of the banana tree finds its way into many dishes, including the delectable yam hua plee, a salad with a complex sour-creamy-spicy flavor that comes from coconut cream, toasted black sesame, lime juice, crisp-fried onions, prawns, chicken meat, and the chewy banana flowers.
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