Friday, July 9, 2010

From the Farm: Funny Stuff

Bite off just a little from the tip, chew it 10 or 15 times, spit it out. You'll love it.

That's usually how I introduce newbies to spilanthes, one of the more unusual things we have growing in our herb garden.

As a commercial farm, one with a hungry family and as many as 10 farm interns to feed, we have little ground -- not to mention little time -- to experiment much. But we do have a few things we plant more or less just for fun, and spilanthes are one of them.

I can't really recommend growing them for seasoning purposes, though Wikipedia says it's possible. They don't taste particularly good to me. More commonly, spilanthes are known as a toothache remedy. After a few good chews, my mouth experiences something akin to biting into a huge lemon, though much more enjoyable (to me anyway). My tongue tingles, the roof of my mouth goes dull, saliva pours out, and invariably I wind up with a huge smile on my face.

In these days of renewed interest in all things local and organic, and in an economic climate where small farmers rely on cash crops like tomatoes and raspberries to generate income, there's not often room for fun stuff like spilanthes -- unless you have some crazy scheme to corner the market on natural dental anesthetics. But if you have the room, or can get your hands on some (you can buy the seed here, described as "highly entertaining"), bite a little off, chew 10-15 times, and spit it out.

You'll love it.

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