The kids love it and often collect various leaves and crush them between their fingers to release the aromas. My oldest boy has even asked for butter and herb sandwiches for lunch, and goes out to pick his own herbs (I send him with a pocket knife and three days' supply of water).
The other day I realised a herb I'd thought was dill gone to seed was in fact a fennel plant. I've always wanted to try cooking fennel - apparently slowly pan-frying the root-bulb caramelises it into a state of awesomeness. That sounded like something else to add to my very long list of what tastes good on buttered baguette.
So I headed out there yesterday to dig up a bulb, but before I could I noticed something already snacking on our fennel.
This guy and about six of his mates.
He looks like a stack of liquorice all-sorts, which is fitting given fennel's aniseed flavour.
I spent a few minutes googling and learned two new things:
1. Fennel is a member of the carrot family, and
2. These little guys are most likely Old World Swallowtail caterpillars.
The kids are hoping they'll catch them turning into butterflies. I'd like to see that myself. But I'm also pretty happy just looking at the caterpillars.
That is one good lookin' bug. He could be a Cherri House quilt.
Caramelised fennel on hot buttered baguette will just have to wait. Guess it's herb and butter sandwiches for me too.