Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A History of Vegetables, part two

A  HISTORY OF VEGETABLES
Lentils
Lentils are an ancient vegetable. There is evidence that they have been eaten since prehistoric times.They are native to Asia and they were also eaten the Egyptians, the Romans and the Greeks. They were also eaten in India.
Lettuce
Lettuce is another very ancient vegetable. It is originally a native to the Mediterranean area. The Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans also ate lettuce. The Spaniards originally took and introduced lettuce to the New World.
Okra or Lady Finger
Okra originally grew in Ethiopia. The Egyptians were the first peoples to cultivate it along the Nile, by 12th century B.C. From North Africa it soon spread out to most of the Middle East and India.And also with the salve trade, okra finally reached North America , at around the end of 16th century
Olives
Olives are native  to the East Mediterranean and people have grown these also since prehistoric times. Olives were very important to the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans, ask a gladiator!
Onions
Onions are said to have been cultivated around 5000 years ago, with the earliest evidence going back to China and India.
By about 3500 BC, onions spread through to Egypt and they were more than just foods. They had both religious and medical importance. Gradually they spread to other parts of Europe, and by the middle ages, onions along with beans and cabbage became the main vegetables of European cuisine
. Onions were one of the first vegetables grown by people. They were eaten by the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. During the Middle Ages onions were one of the staple foods to the majority of people in Europe.
Parsnip
Parsnips are historically thought to be a native to the Mediterranean. The Romans grew them and they were a popular vegetable also in the Middle Ages.  In   England however, parsnips became less popular once potatoes became the common staple in the 18th century.
Peas
Peas are a native to Asia and were one of the very earliest vegetables grown by humans. The Greeks and Romans grew peas prolifically, and during the Middle Ages peas were an important part of the diet of ordinary people throughout Europe.
Potatoes
Potatoes originated in Peru and were cultivated since around 500 B.C. The early potatoes had dark purple skin and a yellow flesh and were known as papas.
In 16th century the Spanish arrived in Peru in search of gold but instead found potatoes. It almost took 30 years for potatoes to become popular in the rest of Europe though.
They were first introduced to England in 1586. However at first potatoes were regarded as a strange vegetable and they were not commonly grown in Europe until the 18th century. In the 1840s potatoes in Ireland were afflicted by potato blight and the result was a catostrophic famine as the people had come to rely on potatoes for their primary food.
Pumpkin
The pumpkin is a native of central America. The Native Americans used them as a main food. Pumpkins were adopted as a food by European settlers. Meanwhile Christopher Columbus brought back pumpkin seeds to Europe. In Tudor England pumpkins were curiously called pompions.
Radish
Radishes are originally a native to Asia. They were grown by Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans. Radishes were bought to the New World in the 16th century. The word radish interestingly enough, comes from the Latin word radix, meaning root.
Runner beans
Runner beans are originally a native to central America and were grown there a long time before they were discovered by the Europeans in the 16th century. Runner beans were first grown in England in the 17th century.
Spinach
Spinach is a native to Asia. However it was unknown strangley enough by the Greeks and Romans. It was first grown in Persia (now Iran). Later it was grown both  by the Arabs and the Chinese. The Arabs introduced spinach to southern Europe and by the 14th century it was eaten commonly in England..
Sweet Corn
Sweet Corn cultivation first began about 7000 years ago in Mexico. The natives started by domesticating a wild grass known as teosinte. Teosintes were very small edible seeds, found on the husks on the ear of the corn, which formed the primary staple diet of this region. This method of cultivation was adopted for several generations, to produce the corn that we know and eat today.
Tomatoes
Tomatoes are also a native to South America. The Spanish came across them in the 16th century. However tomatoes were an unknown food in England until the end of the 16th century.
Turnips
Turnips were originally a native to northern Europe. They were grown by the Romans and during the Middle Ages, turnips were a staple food for the poorer people in Europe. In the 18th century Charles 'Turnip' Townshend(wonder how he came by that name)pioneered the growing of turnips to feed cattle.

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