Violets, Dampness, and Tapioca Balls
“Quench” is such an interesting word, don’t you think? How else could you describe that heavenly feeling of relief that comes from a soothing glass of cool water on a hot, dry summer day?
That’s the word that violets bring to mind for me, as odd as that may at first seem. Violets are cooling, calming, and seem to bring relief to “hot” emotions as well. You know those days when you feel flushed, irritable, wrung-out? Those are the days to pick and eat violets. Violets carry with them an air of damp calmness, but they are also moistening in a very physical sense; they contain a mucilage that helps to coat mucous membranes, stomach linings, and other smooth tissues in the body. Violets coat, soothe, and lubricate. They are slippery, moistening, wet, even juicy… not to mention they smell absolutely incredible.
If you have a tendency to be “hot” or “dry,” then this snack may just be what you’re craving. Or even if you tend to be “cool” or “damp” but you’re having one of those heated irritable days it can be extra delicious then as well. Either way, I think it’s helpful to have a general sense for what it physically feels like to be in our bodies, to then be able to determine what it is we need.
It turns out, I’m not the only one that thinks that. Most main systems of herbalism have some classification system about how a body feels. In Ayurvedic herbalism, those temperaments are Pitta, Vata, and Kapha. In Western herbalism, the four humors are Choleric, Sanguine, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic. And traditional Chinese medicine relates temperaments to five elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. This is a highly simplified listing of herbal systems that are very complex and detailed, but the concept of treating one’s own body for your individual constitution can be simplified quite a bit. You just have to pay attention.
I also think that by having a little more bodily awareness, we can address imbalances or complaints in the most gentle way possible. If a food will soothe your ailment, why try a supplement? If a supplement will do the job, why seek out a prescription? That is not to say that there isn’t a time and place for doctors in lab coats and prescription pads; I just believe that sometimes we can address issues more gently and compassionately, using what is available to us in the natural world instead. These musings are not meant to treat medical conditions, but instead serve as guidelines about your overall feeling. If you’re feeling “off” one day, perhaps pause to reflect: what feels out of balance? What do you need emotionally? Physically?
Violets are for those that are dry. Violets are for days that are dry. How do you know if you are tending towards drier energies? Is your skin dry? Do your mouth or throat tend to feel dry? Do you have a dry cough? When you have a cold, do your sinuses tend to feel dry and tight instead of stuffy? Do you prefer the feeling of damp rainforest air to drying desert heat? Do you feel like you could use some moisture?
Then, my dear, pay attention to the violets.
Violet address stuck, hardened, or dry feelings in the body, such as inflamed tonsils or hardened glands. Violets gently nourish, strengthen, and soothe. Violets coat, moisten, and dampen. Violets are also thought to act on emotions as well; just as they quench dryness and stuck-ness, they can soften and encourage a better flow of feelings. Violets inspire flexibility and gentleness with their delicate ionone-infused scent.
Violets are also cooling, which means that if you have a tendency to have cold energetics, you may want to enjoy these treats with a hot cup of tea. Coolness can show up as being cold more often than those around you, being low energy, trending towards depression or slowness, and so on. Heat as an energetic can be seen in those that react quickly and are prone to anger or feelings of frustration, are often too warm compared to those around them, and so on. You can also have “hot” days - for example, if you find yourself getting more flustered than usual or you feel the sensation of heat in your body, violets can be soothing and cooling.
These little treats are quite easy to make and are a wonderful play of flavors and textures. A juicy blackberry is wrapped in a tangy goat cheese mixture (filled with the perfume of violets and some extra blackberry jam), then that is coated in a shell of chewy tapioca pearls, which add a beautiful pearl-like texture to the exterior as well. These bites could be a dessert, an appetizer, or just a little snack to enjoy with a cup of tea. They remind me of mysterious fish eggs or clusters of pearls, a subtle nod to the soothing dampness of oceanic treasures.
Violet Pearl Balls:
1/4 c. chopped fresh violets
1 4oz package goat cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 Tbs. blackberry jam
About 10 fresh blackberries
1/2 c. uncooked tapioca pearls
edible flowers, to serve (optional)
- In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, chopped violets, and blackberry jam until smooth.
- Chill the mixture slightly until it’s work-able, then wrap each blackberry in an even layer of the goat cheese mixture and roll into a small ball, about 1” diameter.
- Let the blackberry-wrapped balls chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the tapioca, stirring to mix it in. Let cook until they are tender but small white spots remain in the center, about 8 minutes. Strain and allow to cool slightly.
- To form the balls, place a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of a large glass. Spread about 1 Tbs. of the tapioca mixture evenly over the surface of the plastic wrap, making sure to hold the edges so it doesn’t fall in on itself. You should make a circle about 2” across.
- Once you’ve spread an even layer, place a chilled ball in the center and pull the edges of the plastic wrap together to coat the outside evenly in the tapioca mixture.
- Twist the plastic tightly and place the balls in an egg carton to hold the shape. Chill overnight and carefully unwrap before serving. Garnish with an edible flower if desired and serve.
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