I wish there were more of a story about chives or at least a large family of different varieties with unusual histories. (Garlic Chives are a different species.) As it is chives are sweet, neat and attractive little plants that are all alike and very close to their wild counterparts. It would seem that “chives are chives.”
I’m told that “schoenoprasum” is bastardized Greek that compounds “hollow” and “leek” into a single word. That factoid might be correct but its not very interesting.
On a brighter note chive flowers are a thing of beauty even before they open. I’ve read that the Japanese relish chive flowers that have been dipped in batter and deep fat fried. I’ve not tasted a fried chive flower but if you’ve ever looked at one closely it seems like a cruel thing to do.
My chive plant is a cutting from my parents farm in Iowa. Their chives were a cutting from my aunt Elsa’s garden nearly 35 years ago. Elsa was an avid gardener with a keen and practical interest in plants. Like most Midwestern gardeners she favored plants that offered good yields and a likelihood of surviving the extremity of a Minnesota winter. “It won’t die” was the highest order of praise in her garden. That her chives now grow in my California garden proves her point. Sadly “Elsa’s Chives” have outlived her but I think of her each time I tend the plants and I thank her each time I snip a pinch.
Really fresh chives are a wonderful and versatile herb. While chives kept under refrigeration might continue to look fresh the flavor fades to a faint shadow after two or three days. A careful chef should have access to a close-by garden with chives. They are easy to grow and a much-loved gardener once told me that they won’t die.