Visiting the Netherlands from March to May every year after the grey winter, tourists have opportunities to see a forest of tulips, hyacinths and all manner of other flowers. A good way to view the sights is to rent a bike cycling across streets or walk along some flower gardens.
People also have chances to attend the world's biggest flower auction at Aalsmer, visit spectacles produced by over seven million flowering bulbs at the Keukenhof gardens, pose behind traditional Dutch windmills and see the world's only floating flower market Bloemenmarkt, where they can buy all sorts of plants, flowers, bulbs and seeds.
For centuries, man has consumed and burnt poppy seeds for its supposed sleep-inducing and hypnotic effects. Literary references to poppies include those made in the book The Wizard of Oz. The poppy derived its name from the Latin word "somniferum", which means, "to bring sleep". However, this is just a myth and modern science has proven that merely eating poppy seeds does not have this effect.
When a pollinated bloom shrivels, it leaves behind a casing filled with gradually maturing seeds. This type of blossom is indigenous to Asia and Europe. Many societies also use these mature seeds as a spice. These seeds are dark blue or gray in color and miniscule in size. An Indian variety of poppy seed is whitish in color. These seeds can be used as an alternative to sesame seeds in some food preparations.
Turkish and Indian cuisines have mastered the art of using poppy seeds. They can be combined into main dishes, salads and desserts. They can be used to coat roasted turkey, baked into muffins, or prepare loaves of lemon bread or cookies. When these seeds are cold-pressed, one can manufacture flavored oil, which can be used as an alternative to olive oil.
In due course of time, communities embarked on ways of concentrating the alkaloids contained within poppy seeds to make opium and heroin, which are now controlled substances. They are also used to develop the anesthetic drug, morphine. Poppy seeds are produced in various countries including the Netherlands, Australia, India, Romania and Turkey. The United States imports most of its poppy seeds from the Netherlands.
Though the quantity of alkaloids in poppy seeds is insignificant, it is believed that if a person consumes enough poppy seeds and goes for a drug test, the results will come back positive for opium usage. Many diners around the world enjoy eating poppy seeds because of their taste, crispy nut-like flavor and smell.