I went, yesterday morning, to some lotus ponds where the lotus we buy for Enfleurage comes from. First of all, since I know there will be a few people who are just itching to discuss this, let’s get it over at the beginning. There are lotuses and there are water-lilies. Lotuses are Nelumbos and they come in pink (which are also called red) and white only. They open at night, but don’t necessarily close during the day, I don’t think. Some do. Anyway…. Lotuses have those big, extremely edible and fantastic seed pods, and water-lilies don’t. Lotuses can apparently regulate the temperature of its flowers, like warm blooded animals do.
Water lilies are not even related to lotuses. They are Nymphaea. They don’t have the big interesting seed pod but they are delightful anyway and water-lilies come in many colors, like blue. Both lotuses and water lilies smell boldly technicolor, bright and strong and floral in weird ways, and although they smell similar, they do smell different from each other and even color to color.
But, that said, unless we are having this exact discussion, we refer to blue water-lilies as blue lotuses. Sorry, I know it bugs a few people, but that’s the way it is. It’s easier and cuter, a double whammy.
Pink lotuses open at night, as I said, and blue ones and white ones open in the daytime. (White water-lilies I assume open in the say and maybe the white lotuses open at night.) It’s hard to know since they don’t necessarily close at all.
All the lotus ponds I visited were mono-chromatic, at least for the most part. I did spot a couple of pink volunteers in the corner of the blue pond, etc. But the majority are all pink, all blue, all white.
Since the lotuses are picked primarily for drying and eating, pesticides are not used. Instead, catfish troll beneath the surface eating worms, bugs, and any other bottom dwellers.
The lotuses are harvested by guys going out with big floating buckets. The harvesters don’t have to go out in little round boats like they do in India’s lotus harvest because even though there are some snakes, there are “not too many.”
This is winter here in Thailand and that doesn’t mean cold—it means there is a breeze, but the flowers don’t like it so much and so there are not too many lotuses out, compared to the summer.
I have to admit I was skeptical in the past. I had never seen enough blue lotuses (waterlilies) to accept that blue lotus oil could be available on the open commercial market but now I get to eat my words, which would taste better with a crunch of fried lotus root to go with.
We ended the day with an overnight to a remote little rural resort, saturated with incredible night blooming flowers and thousands of orchids. Right outside my window was completely insane Quisqualis, not even creeping but somehow turned into a large bush growing out of an anthill.
Once the sun was gone all hell broke loose. I was dizzy all night as thousands of fat and assertive blossoms exploded in drunken glee. Oh yeah.