“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
A child is like an extraterrestrial. Or, at least, my idea of one. The newness of everything it comes into contact with on this planet describes an experience different from what we adults are typically capable of, or even of recalling to some extent.
The first dandelion: to a young child, a toddler perhaps, it can be a hard-hitting piece of art. I still have a clear memory of that primal encounter. It shocked me with its yellowness, its brilliance exploding before my eyes and reverberating throughout my being. This was love. I cling to this early impression with some sense of loss……Of innocence? Naiveté?
Here on the other side, the grown-up one, there’s so little patience for this plant as to inspire pathos. I could be accused of ‘lionizing’ but I wouldn’t be the first. The name itself derives from the French, dent-de-lion, or, tooth of the lion. Granted, this is in reference to the shape of the leaves. But it is a powerful source of nutrition and medicine. The greens are purifying to the blood and high in minerals and vitamins. Both the leaves and the roots have been used traditionally for problems with the liver, kidneys, and stomach. It is anti-inflammatory and also possibly anti-carcinogenic. And you can’t beat the price.
The roasted root can be found in coffee substitutes. I once read (somewhere?!) about an application for the dried, unroasted root which was quite interesting. It promised to thicken milk to a cream-like texture. I tried it and it worked very well. But then, repeated attempts had no effect. This is definitely worth more research. And some day, perhaps I’ll try my hand at dandelion wine, which is made with a thousand or so blossoms. That shouldn’t be too hard to find.
The leaves are the most commonly used part. They resemble, and are closely related to, chicory and endive. They may be steamed or sautéed with garlic and olive oil. Here I have added them to a composed salad……
Dandelion greens, chopped
Dressing of oil, vinegar, minced garlic, salt, pepper