Elizabeth of Hungary
is venerated throughout central Europe as patroness of the poor and inspired
one of the loveliest hagiographic legends.
Sárospatak Hungary in 1207, Elizabeth was the daughter of Andrew II, King of Hungary.
At the age of four, Elisabeth was betrothed to Louis IV
of Thüringia in Central Germany.
At fourteen, she was married to Lewis.
Louis died of
the plague when Elizabeth was 20. She subsequently joined
the Third Order of St. Francis, a lay Franciscan group, and built a
hospital at Marburg for the poor and the sick. Elizabeth relinquished
her wealth to the poor, and became a symbol of Christian charity in
Germany and elsewhere after her death at the age of 24.
According to legend, shortly after her marriage, Elizabeth had depleted
her own family's larder and was carrying several loaves of bread under
her cloak to distribute than to the poor. Lewis saw that Elizabeth was
obviously concealing something under her cloak and asked her to show him
what she was hiding. After hesitating for a few moments because she
didn't want her husband to be upset with her excessive charity,
Elizabeth opened her cloak. To both her and Lewis's amazement, dozens of
roses fell to the ground.
The legend of
Elizabeth's miraculous roses continues in the small, fragrant briar roses called Elizabethblumen that still grow on the steep hills
surrounding Eisenach, the site of Louis's and Elizabeth's home The year 2007 was proclaimed "Elisabeth Year"
in Marburg. All year, events commemorating Elisabeth's life and works
were held, culminating in a town-wide festival to celebrate the 800th
anniversary of her birth on July 7, 2007.
St. Elizabeth's feastday is often celebrated in Germany by
decorating church altars with roses and with a variety of rose-flavored
desserts. In Europe roses are still used as both culinary and medicinal
ingredients. In the United States we have unfortunately lost the tradition
of using flowers such as roses, violets, nasturtiums, and marigolds in our
cooking. In vegetable and fruit salads, these flowers add an incomparable
taste and color.
Rose petals are the most versatile of culinary flowers. They
can be added to batters for cakes, pancakes, muffins, etc. Try freezing
petals in ice cubes for a special cocktail. Rose water is an often under
ingredient in transforming mousses, ice creams, and other desserts into
exotic variations of everyday recipes. In preparing rose petals for cooking
or for salads, wash them carefully to remove any insecticide and trim off
the white portion at the base of the petals.
While rose water is occasionally available at pharmacies, health food
stores, and specialty food shops, it only costs a fraction of the commercial
price to make it. Place 8 cups of rose petals in a large pot. Cover with
water and let simmer for 2 hours. Do not let water boil. Sieve liquid and
discard petals. Repeat procedure 6 times with rose-flavored liquid instead
of fresh water. Then bring mixture to a boil and boil
to 1/3 cup.
Cover and store in refrigerator.