Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen, our current Cook the Books Club selection, is another CTB pick in the tradition of food as magic, such as The Last Chinese Chef and Like Water for Chocolate. I am a sucker for a bit of the miraculous in life, and, this little gem of a novel certainly cast it's spell. I went right out and read every one of her other books, after finishing it. Got to love a book that mixes up a spellbinding plot with romance and good food.
Allen's story line about a magically gifted Southern family was unique enough to hold my interest, and her characters were well conceived, not at all predictable, but flawed, believable yet sympathetic human beings, who struggle with the emotional baggage we all carry, grow and come out changed for the better. Even the apple tree had personality.
There was plenty to inspire our culinary interest as well. My first thought was to do stuffed zucchini flowers, but the snails got all of the starts we put out. I should cook them, the little devils. But her mention of chive blossoms was a revelation. I'd had no idea you could eat the flowers, or that they would be so delicious, carrying a more assertive jolt of the chive flavor. I will never pass up that opportunity again. Mine are garlic chives, sometimes called Chinese chives, and have white flowers, rather than the lavender blooms of standard chives.
I thought how lovely they would look floating on a bowl of chilled beet soup. In the Russian/Estonian/etc. tradition with dill and cucumber, it would be perfect for our summer weather. And, anyone with hurt feelings at dinner might be soothed. Also the dill helps digestion and was thought to ward off any evil eyes lurking about, as per my Rodale's Encyclopedia of Herbs.