Monday, June 22, 2009

Exhibit of Edible Plants in San Francisco

A Cacao Pod

Many food items that we take for granted today, have a very interesting history. I love studying the origins of such things as chocolate, vanilla, sugar, spices etc. I collect books on the cultural history of plant foods and ingredients.

So this new exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers called Edible Expeditions, running from May 7 to November 1, 2009, is 'right up my alley'. I can't wait to get on my feet again, so I can go see it.

It features all kinds of foods which were originally from Asia or the 'New World' (North and South America) that were brought back to Europe centuries ago. Some became the products of plantation agriculture and thus played a huge role in the decimation of native populations, which led to the importation of slaves. Foods that we commonly eat today were once only available to royalty and the rich.

To see them growing in the 'tropical' climate of a lovely Victorian greenhouse, originally built in 1879, is in many ways a miracle. For most of us, this is the only way we will ever see them growing.

Since I lived in the Congo while in the Peace Corps, I got used to seeing papayas and mangos in the trees outside my window. People would just reach up and pick them, like we would grab an apple off a tree. It was great.

When I lived in Louisiana, I had bananas growing outside, hanging over my swimming pool. As a native Californian, I was thrilled to eat my own homegrown bananas.

At this exhibit, you will see vanilla, chocolate and coffee as well as taro, jackfruit and longan. You will see other edible plants from Africa, China, India and Brazil as well.

The Conservatory of Flowers is in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Click here for more information about this exhibit.

I have developed a new line of products using chocolate, which is very good for your skin when used externally. It is high in anti-oxidants and cocoa butter is lubricating and softening. I have a chocolate walnut sugar scrub, a chocolate lip balm, chocolate mermaid soap (see my Etsy shop) and a chocolate body butter in a tube.

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