Can't beat 'em? Then eat 'em

You know the saying: Every dog has its day. Now, so does every dandelion. Actually, dandelions get two days, thanks to the Defenders of Dandelions, who, for the past eight years, have organized a bash to celebrate the virtues of the colorful weed.

Lawn-proud suburban homeowners see few virtues in the round yellow blooms - especially when they pop up in an expanse of dark green grass. But Peter Gail, the Dover, Ohio, event's organizer and author of "The Dandelion Celebration: A Guide to Unexpected Cuisine," begs to differ.

In a note inviting entries for the National Dandelion Cookoff, Dr. Gail notes: "Dandelions are players in the cuisines of at least 54 countries. The Koreans use them in kimchi. Germans make dandelion gravies to spread over potatoes. The French make a famous gourmet salad called Pissenlit au Lard.... And the Italians ... well, the Italians, who call them chigoda, use them in practically everything."

In looking over the recipes that won previous cookoffs (www.edible weeds.com), I can see that I've had the wrong attitude toward dandelions all these years. Instead of believing that the pesky weed existed simply to torment me, I should have been thinking of it as a way to lower my grocery bill.

Who could resist Poblano-Dandelion Soup, Dandelion Appetizer Cheesecake, Dandelion Taco Salad, Dandelion Won-Tons, or Dandelion-Stuffed Chicken Caesar Salad? Maybe Dandelion Pizza Sandwich (spaghetti sauce, chopped dandelion leaves, and shredded cheese inside pita bread, microwaved till the cheese melts) will become the next fast-food trend.

Pretty soon, the new cry in suburbia may be: Don't spray those dandelions - that's my lunch.

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