Buzz buttons and leaves
The Fine Dining Ingredient That Will Leave Your Mouth Tingling
When it comes to Michelin Star-worthy fine dining, intriguing ingredients are usually front and center in the flavorous gourmet dishes. One such ingredient is the Szechuan button.
Szechuan buttons aren't renowned for their nutritious qualities or exciting flavor profile, but rather for the electrifying sensation they impart when added to foods and drinks.
Also known as pilanthes acmella, buzz button, electric daisy, paracress, and the toothache plant, the "Acmella oleracea" plant features small yellow and orange flowers.
When chewed, these flowers deliver a numbing sensation that can leave the mouth tingling for up to ten minutes. The sensation is caused by a chemical compound called spilanthol.
Popular in the culinary world and largely only available in online retailers, buzz buttons activate the salivary glands, stimulating taste buds and enhancing other flavors.
Chef Ferran Adrià, a pioneer of the molecular gastronomy culinary trend, was one of the first people in the US to experiment with the flower. He incorporated it into a milk wafer.
Chef Marc Forgione currently serves them at his eponymous New York-based restaurant alongside hiramasa, avocado, and chips, but the buzz buttons also work well with cocktails.
In 2017, the restaurant and wine bar Seasons 52 added the "Botanical Buzz" drink to its menu. It featured vodka, honey syrup, and lemon juice topped with the flower on the rocks.
Szechuan buttons have also graced the drink menus of popular hot spots like The Chandelier bar at The Cosmopolitan and even the likes of the casual dining chain TGI Fridays.