Food History is a resource for anybody interested in food history. Articles exploring various issues of food history will be featured regularly. Learning food history means that cultural study which involves multidisciplinary approaches from economics, sociology and demography, and even literature.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Asparagus during ancient time

Asparagus was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans but lost its popularity in the Middles Ages.

Asparagus was known to ancient Egypt where the Egyptians offered bundles of asparagus to their gods. It has been associated with gods of fertility, Osiris and Min, because of its shape and the way it grows, and with Isis and Hathor, the goddesses who cultivate the fecundity of Osiris-Min.

It was said that ancient Phoenicians brought asparagus to the Greeks and Romans.

The Greek discovered that wild asparagus, Asparagus officinalis, was delicious. They ate the young shoots of the plants.

The ancient Greeks also used asparagus for medicinal purposes; however they used a different species, Asparagus acutifolius.

The word asparagus derives from Greek words: ‘ana’, meaning ‘up’, and ‘sparagan’, meaning to ‘swell’, a reference to the prominent shoots of the plant or sprout that ‘swell up; as it grows.

Oddly the word was used in English at the beginning of the eleventh century but then vanished until the middle of the sixteenth century when it reappeared as ‘sperage’.

Pliny celebrates the cultivated asparagus of Ravenna. Asparagus was highly regarded by the Romans as a food and was considered most beneficial to the stomach. Pliny said that of all the cultivated vegetables, asparagus needs the most delicate attention.
Asparagus during ancient time

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