Friday, January 31, 2020

Language of Flowers Round Up

I read this book three years ago and was struck just how much food was mentioned in the novel. At the time I thought it would be a great recommendation for Cook the Books.

Here's my Good Reads review from 2017:

I did love this book...even with all the coincidence...even with all the improbability...even with the sometimes dark themes. The Language of Flowers is a cross between White Oleander (because of the foster care system depiction) and Garden Spells (because of the power of the flowers). 
Victoria has aged-out of the foster care system and finds herself homeless and without any job prospects. But, she has the "language of flowers" to fall back on. Her gift lands her a job with a local florist and allows her to reconnect with her past while visiting the flower market. Victoria's "gift" with the language of flowers is more of her education and knowledge versus a mystical talent. I don't know if I would have enjoyed the book as much if Diffenbaugh had gone over to the mystical side.
I didn't like Part 4 as much as the first three sections of the book. To discuss it further would be a spoiler. Just suffice it to say that Victoria has to work through some "mommy issues." 

While rereading for this event, I was struck with just how much of the plot I had forgotten. In my head, I remembered a happy ending early on. I had totally forgotten the pain and emotion of Part 4. (Maybe that's why I state I did not enjoy it.) On my second reading of the novel, I could not get past the outrageous pain, danger, and psychological issues that Victoria deals with. How did she survive and even thrive (though some would argue that last point)?

How many Victorias are out there that do not thrive or survive? I can't even fathom it.

Even though this novel had some dark themes, I think everyone enjoyed the read.

Cam from Culinary Adventures with Camilla was first up on December 2 with her post.   She knows the author!   (Or, sort of as she writes.)    Another connection with the book is that Cam used to be a florist!  Who knew?  

I'm so glad that somebody did a riff on the donut theme running through the book.  Check out this hilarious box that Camilla purchased from a school-run culinary program.
Cam loved the book and I love that she points out that Victoria  "ends up with a whole tribe of people who care for her."

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm was next up with a chicken recipe.   (There are at least two significant roasted chicken dishes mentioned on the pages.)  Here's her Apple Cider Brined Chicken

Wendy had a special connection to the story-line:  "My regular readers know that my husband and I adopted a teenager last April.  This lovely young lady had been in the foster care system for many years and was living in a residential group home when we learned of her."

Next up is Cook the Books co-host, Claudia from Honey From Rock.  She enjoyed the book but had some difficulties with the main character.  As a former foster parent, she had a hard time connecting with Victoria.  (Her own experiences with her foster child were wonderful.)  As for the food, she was inspired by the setting of California (for avocados) and flowers.  
Here's her version of Party Time Guacamole with "lemon for the zest, allium (garlic and onion) for prosperity, dandelions for their rustic oracle touch and parsley for a festive contribution."

Amy's Cooking Adventures was inspired by the flower symbolism as well.   

I really wanted to make something with flowers, especially one with meaning, but I live in the North and fresh flowers are very limited up here in the winter.  So I had to work with what I had.  And what I had were the blue butterfly pea flowers and they have no meaning in the Victorian language of flowers (sad).
Blue butterfly pea flowers are super fun for science experiments (they change color when you add acid).  I also used the blue butterfly pea flowers to make tea that I did not like at all.
I love that Amy used a natural coloring for her lovely Butter Mints.  

Believe it or not, I was not the last one to post.  (It was touch and go there that I would even get a post done.)   From my first reading of the novel, I remembered banana-peach pancakes that Elizabeth makes for Victoria to make her feel at home.   I totally morphed that into Banana-Mango Nut Muffins.

Simona from briciole (and another co-host) was able to focus on the flower symbolism in the novel.  
The book includes a dictionary associating flowers to their meaning. At the farmers' market I saw some beautiful fennel, a plant that blooms tall with flowers similar to those of parsley (both plants are umbellifers, they have umbrella-shaped flowers). According to the dictionary, the meaning of fennel is strength. I like that!

She created a delicious Bean, Fennel, and Mushroom Stew.  

Our last (but not least) co-host who posted up just in time is Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

Deb states it was hard to find the happy in this book, but she did like "how Grant taught himself to cook and how he fed the always ravenous Victoria. Food is love, after all."

I'm glad she made this recipe of Stuffed Baquette with Cheese and Herbs.  

Thanks to all who read The Language of Flowers and took part in this round.    

Please stay tuned as I know Simona is working on the announcement post for February/March:
Pomegranate Soup: A Novel.  

-----Debra (Eliot's Eats)