Monday, August 15, 2011

part one of A History of vegetables

If you are curious as to the origins of some vegetables, then here is part one:
Artichokes
Artichokes are origainally native plant in the Mediterranean region. They were eaten by the Greeks and Romans and later by the Arabs. Though after the fall of Rome artichokes were rare in Europe until the 15th century when they were grown in Italy. From there artichokes spread to the rest of Europe and worldwide.
Asparagus
Asparagus is a native to the Eastern Mediterranean region. Asparagus was grown primarily by the Greeks and Romans and it became a popular vegetable throughout Europe in the 16th century.
Aubergine
Aubergines (or eggplants) are a native to India. Later they spread to China and by the 15th century they were being grown throughout southern Europe.
Beetroot
Beetroot is descended origainally from wild sea beet, which grew around Europe and Asia. However for centuries people ate only the leaves of the plant rather than its roots. Eating beetroot only really became popular in the 18th century.
Broad Beans
Broad beans are a native of the Middle East and Southern Asia. They were known to the Ancient Greeks and they have been eaten in Europe ever since.
Broccoli
Rasenna, an ittinerant community came originally from Asia Minor and settled in Tuscany and began broccoli cultivation. The Romans were enamoured by this vegetable and it became a firm favourite.  In 1533 Catherine De Medici married Henry II and introduced broccoli to the French cuisine. It was eaten in France and Italy in the 16th century. However broccoli was rare in England until the 18th century. It first became a popular vegetable in the USA in the 1920s.
Brussel sprout
Brussels sprouts were grown in the area funnily enough around Brussels in the 13th century. However they were only very occasionally eaten in England until the 18th century like Broccoli. Brussels sprouts were grown in the USA from the 19th century.
Butter Beans
Butter beans are a native to Central America. They were first recorded in Europe in 1591.
Cabbages
Cabbages were brought to Europe originally from China, by Celtic wanderers in 600 B.C. The early cabbage was a loose leafy variety. But, by the middle ages, the European farmers developed a full-head for the cabbage, which is found today. They were also grown by the Greeks and the Romans and in Europe they have been a popular vegetable ever since. Cabbages were brought to North America in the 16th century
Carrots
Carrots originated around 5000 years ago in Afghanistan and eventually spread to the whole Mediterranean region.Initially they were very small thin purple or white coloured root plants, with a very bitter flavour. But over the course of a few centuries they have changed to black, red and even yellow colour but never orange!
It was only in the 16th century, when the Dutch growers, experimented on improving the flavour of carrots. By cross breeding pale yellow ones with red varieties, to produce new sweet flavoured orange carrots. Having beta carotene, which was healthier and therefore all other varieties ceased to be planted. They first became popular in England during Queen Elizabeth I's reign.
Cauliflower
Cauliflowers are said to have originated in China. Thereafter the vegetable was found in the Mediterranean region in 600 B.C. and remained exclusive in Italy and Turkey. . However in the 16th century the cauliflower spread throughout Europe. Cauliflower was first grown in North America in late in the17th century.
Celery
Celery had its earliest use mainly for medical purposes, by the Egyptians in 850 B.C. The Greeks believed it to be a holy plant. The Romans were the first to use celery for culinary preparations. is a native to the Mediterranean. Wild celery was known to the Greeks and Romans. However cultivation of celery only began in Europe in the 17th century.When Italians began cultivating celery as a vegetable. They brought about a change in the basic characteristic of the vegetable. By eliminating its hollow stalk and reducing the strong bitter flavour of the plant, for better culinary use.
Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a native to the Middle East. They were very popular with the Romans and they have been eaten in Europe ever since.
Chillies
Chillies are originally from Central America where they have been grown for thousands of years. The Aztecs amongst others were fond of chillies and the Spanish brought them back to Europe. Chillies came to England in 1548.
Cucumbers
Cucumbers are a native to south Asia. They were grown by the Greeks and Romans. Cucumbers were also grown in England in the Middle Ages. The Spanish introduced cucumbers into the New World in 1494.
Garlic
Garlic originated in Central Asia over 4000 years ago. As an ingredient in culinary preparations primarily and as a medicinal plant garlic spread to the Mediterranean region. By 3000 B.C. it was being used in Egypt. And other ancient civilisations like the Indus valley. From here it spread to China. The Spanish, French and Portuguese took it all the way to the new world.
Green Beans
The different kinds of beans such as green beans, kidney, navy beans e.t.c originated  from a common bean plant in Peru. With the spread of the migrant Indian tribes, they reached North and South America. From there they were introduced to the Mediterranean by Christopher Columbus in 1493, at the end of his voyage to the New World.
Kidney Beans
Kidney Beans are a native of South America. They were common in England by the mid-16th Century.
Leeks
Leeks are native to central Asia. They were grown by the Egyptians. The Greeks and Romans also grew leeks and the Romans are said to have introduced them to the rest of Europe. The leek is the symbol of Wales. According to folklore, Welsh soldiers wore a leek in their caps to distinguish themselves from their Saxon enemies during a battle.

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