Wednesday, June 29, 2022

History of celery in Europe

Celery is believed to be originally from the Mediterranean basin, though archaeological remains from Switzerland have suggested that humans were transporting celery seeds as early as 4,000 B.C. Wild forms can be found in marshy areas throughout temperate Europe and Western Asia.

In Homer's Illiad, the horses of Myrmidons graze on wild celery that grows in the marshes of Troy, and in Odyssey there is mention of the meadows of violet and wild celery surrounding the cave of Calypso.

The ancients associated celery with funerals and believed it to be a bad luck omen. In ancient Greece, celery leaves were used as garlands for the dead and to make wreaths or crowns that were given to winners of battles. Woven garlands of wild celery are reported to have been found in early Egyptian tombs.

People in Egypt and Rome used the wild plant medicinally for a slew of ailments, but "usually for hangovers or as aphrodisiacs." The Romans also favored wild celery's leaves to weave victory crowns for athletes.

Celery was probably not under widespread cultivation till the Middle Ages, though ancient literature documents that celery was cultivated before 850 BC. Celery production developed in the lowlands of Italy and further spread to France and England.

Celery was probably first used as a food by the French around 1623. For about the next century its use was confined to flavoring because of the pungency of early types.

In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, in Italy, France, and England, were seen the first evidences of improvement of the wild type.

The Italians domesticated celery as a vegetable in the 17th century. After years of domestication, growers were able to reduce the bitterness and hollow stalks associated with celery at that time.

All through the 19th century in America, England, and much of Europe, it was believed necessary to blanch the green edible portion of celery to rid it of unpleasantly strong flavor and green color.
History of celery in Europe