I have a cocktail garden: rosemary, thyme, mint, lemon verbena, and borage. Borage is a weird one. Once popular in cocktails (Pimm’s No. 1 Cup used to include borage) and eaten occasionally as salad greens or in soup, you’re unlikely to find it these days at even your most bountiful farmers market. The thorns and mucus might have something to do with that.
Borage’s trademark, an almost artificially vibrant blue firework of a flower, perches high on a bristly, nettle-like stalk filled with the stringy slime that makes most people hate okra. But hey — it’s good for you.
The whole thing is edible, from leaves to flowers, and borage sprouts up enthusiastically in most herbal medicine books. John Evelyn’s “Acetaria” from 1699 advises eating borage “to revive the hypochondriac, and cheer the hard student.” William Salmon’s “Family Dictionary” from 1696 assures that borage “comforts the heart, cheers melancholy, and revives the fainting spirits.” Well, so does a stiff drink. But an extra dose of medicine in your cup can’t hurt.
Plus, borage tastes exactly like cucumber, and looks much more interesting, making it the perfect gin-and-tonic garnish (especially if you’re using Hendricks). Mix as you will, toss in a lemon slice and some borage flowers, minced borage leaves, or — why not? — a whole stalk. Sip, munch and banish melancholy, or at least bland-looking drinks, for good.
Are you a borage proponent? Ever tried it? Share your take in comments.