HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


help! ate some delicious flowers, don't know their names...

...at Le Petit Vatel in Paris' 5th. Their vegetable plate had these fantastic purple and yellow flowers sprinkled on top that gave off a wonderful aroma. I asked what they were, but the hostess didn't know in English. My butchered memory of what she called them in french was "bleuex" and "cioucix" or something like that. Thoughts?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hi,

    Would they look like this?

    If so, here what I know about "capucines" (Nasturtium):
    "Capucines" were made popular in cooking with Alain Passard's "moules de bouchot à la fleur de capucine". The chef of l'Arpège created a dish where the commonly used saffron was replaced with Capucine flowers to flavour the mussels.



    1. Purple and yellow flowers wouldn't be nasturtiums. (Though nasturtiums are good.) I think they may have been johnny-jump-ups, a sweet-smelling kind of viola, cousin to a pansy.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Glencora

        I like to use nastutiums in salsa or bruschetta...just a side note!

      2. They weren't nasturtiums. The flowers were tiny with very thin petals -- about the size of lavender.

        I have a picture of them....is there a way I can upload it?

        2 Replies
        1. re: tastytamarind

          If you do a Google image search with "bleuet" (centaurea cyanus)


          and "souci" (calendula officinalis)


          , you can check if the picture matches what you ate. If yes, a French-English dictionary should help you find the right flower.

          I'm sorry, I don't know the English names of these flowers.

          Otherwise, in French restaurants usually the edible flowers are "capucines". Don't know what it is in English, again.

          Hope this helps.

          1. re: tastytamarind

            Put the pictures on a site like Flicker and then provide a link to that site.

          2. I have been thinking that this flower could be viola too Glencora. How about this picture:


            1. The bleuet looks like what we would call a batchlor button, and do not know about the other.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Quine

                The other is calendula just like it's latin name, though it is often called pot marigold. It is a common edible flower, also used for color and teas. It does have a spicy, slightly bitter taste.

              2. I was thinking, re viola, that the waitress was saying "violet", meaning viola, instead of bleuet.

                1. All the pictures I checked out have petals much broader than those served by the bistro. The flowers themselves were tiny, and the petals were thin and long (and again, tiny). However, the names "bleuet" and "souci" sound exactly like what she said... so I'm officially puzzled. I'll keep searching. Thanks, all, for the possibilities!

                  1. A nasturtium has a very peppery bite, sort of like arugula and the petals, which are also edible, are a roundish shape and somewhat thick. So, if it bit you back it was nasturtium. Another edible flower is the geranium and the pansy and also violets.

                    1. If they were tiny and fragrant, they could be the flowers of an herb. Thyme, rosemary etc., have edible flowers. Not sure if they'd be in season though. A mystery.

                        1. I bet they were violets. Were they kind of sweet and had a perfumed flavor to them? Other related flowers I thought of were Johnny jump-ups (they are purple, yellow or a combo of that). Or, the actual flower, Viola! Also, pansies come in a colorful variety of purples, yellows, apricots and pastel hues. All of these flowers fit the description you mentioned, tiny, long stem and delicate petals. All too, taste delicate, but pansies taste grassier than the other mentioned flowers.

                          1. What about borage?


                            That's "bourrache" in French... not quite "bleuet" or "souci" but... well...

                            1. http://www1.snapfish.com/slideshow/Al...

                              this is the best picture I could get of the flowers, as served on my dish. hope this helps...

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: tastytamarind

                                Could it be lavender - I don't quite think it is, but another guess!

                                1. re: tastytamarind

                                  Those blue ones are definitely borage. Borage smells better than it tastes -- the scent is more powerful, though the flowers taste kind of like a bizarre cucumber. It's all over my garden -- one of the few plants to survive the first hard freezes in 40 years.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    Sorry about your garden, mine's full of dead plants too.

                                    Borage would make sense because it would still be blooming at this time of year. I don't think it tastes particularly good, though.

                                    1. re: Glencora

                                      I like it, it just doesn't taste as strong as it smells.

                                    2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                      Well, if it was a US salad I'd say cornflowers and marigolds ... but neigther has a particularily wonderful aroma. The flowers of rosemary don't particularily have a strong aroma either. Sure it was the flowers and not something in the dressing? Did the flowers taste any particular way? Marigold has a spicy taste.

                                      English / French
                                      Borage = bourrache
                                      Rosemary = romarin
                                      Lavender = lavande

                                      This has a few more herbs, but the only thing even romotely close was chives ... which do flower.

                                      What's the orange stuff on the plate? Looks like carrots.

                                    3. re: tastytamarind

                                      Can you recall the flavors these flowers held? (And the fragrance they gave off?) At glance, it looks like a lot of stemins mixed with petals. The orangy-yellow looks almost like saffron??? And I would agree that the purple resembles lavender. Which would make sense since it is widely used in French foods. Hmmm, you've really stumped us all, I think!?!?
                                      But, now, I have GOT to know! LOL! O=:)

                                      Now that I SEE the actual pic of the salad with flowers, I would say...
                                      Yep, I am gonna go with saffron and lavender!

                                    4. It could be rosemary. The flavor is very honey like and perfumy. The flowers range from deep purple to light pink. They are white too I think depending on variety. The shape of the flower reminds me of a trumpet or a very small snap dragon.

                                      1. I would say the yellow are definitely calendula. Judging by your picture, description and name, I'd guess the other is cornflower which has a spicy light clove flavor. The petals of both are rather thin when stripped from the flower itself.

                                        1. Hmm ... could be cornflower after all ... in French
                                          Bleuet des champs (I think)

                                          1. Oh boy! So many guesses!

                                            The orange is carrots -- fyi.

                                            I thought the purple may have been lavender, but the french for it sounds nothing like what I recall her saying. It's hard to remember a particular flavor, but the dish was served with jasmine rice, and the flowers really blended into the jasmine aroma. They weren't particularly pungent, or strong-tasting, for that matter. I also couldn't discern the flowers' individual scents.

                                            Goodness! I wish I could be of more help! I wonder if Le Petit Vatel has an email address... I'm going to have to do some more research.