The name Tulip was first applied to the plant by a man called Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq who was a Dutch ambassador in Turkey in the sixteenth century and was also a great floral enthusiast. One day he was talking to a sultan and he noticed that he was wearing an attractive flower in his headwear.
When I say talking what I mean is that they were communicating with each other in the way that people do when they can’t speak each other’s language with lots of funny faces and wild gesticulations.
Busbecq was curious about the flower and pointed to it and enquired its name. In Turkey the name of the flower was a Lale but the Sultan thought he meant what is the name of his hat so he told him it was a Tulipan or turban and Busbeqc, who completely misunderstood, acquired some bulbs and sent them back to Europe with the information that they were called Tulipa.
A good job that he wasn’t wearing a pork pie hat or tulips would be porkies!
Now, this is important information in case we run out of food during the lock down…
All parts of tulips are edible and the bulb can be substituted for onions (although they are a little more expensive and less flavourful). The Dutch ate tulip bulbs in the hard times of WW2 even though the petals have little taste but can be used to garnish a dish, chop a few petals and throw them in a salad, sugar them to decorate a cake or use the entire flower for a fruit bowl, pinching out the pistil and stamen in the middle.
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