If it’s the Easter season, the time has come to cut some flor de itabo flowers for a slightly bitter addition to the daily diet.
In anticipation of the approaching rainy season, trees are abloom. The red llama de la selva and the pink blossoms of the roble de sabana tree can be seen all over the Central Valley. But it is the white flowers of the flor de Itabo (Yucca elephantipes) that country-born Costa Ricans seek.
The one problem is that the trees frequently are 30 feet high. Someone, probably not a chubby, has to reach the top and chop off the flower, perhaps with a handsaw. The trees are highly valued because they grow quickly and frequently are used as a perimeter fence. Those not comfortable scaling an ill-supported extension ladder can find the flowers at the various weekend ferias.
The petals are separated from the stems, washed and drained. There is a multitude of uses. Two men harvesting flowers in San Pedro Monday noted that the flowers make a good addition to scrambled eggs, despite a slight bitterness. But they also planned to use the petals with onions, peppers and other chopped vegetables in tortillas.
Eating flowers is not always a good idea. The blossoms of the reina de la noche can put someone to sleep forever. The flor de itabo is so unique and easily identified that there really is no danger. Columnist Jo Stuart reported that she tried the flower once but found it to be too bitter. Here is the editor’s recipe for flor de itabo a la Johnny.
One cluster of flor de itabo blossoms
half liter Johnny Walker red label
half liter of water
two medium glasses
Put the flor de itabo blossom in the glass with the water. Admire it. Pour the Johnny Walker into the other glass and drink it.