Monday, February 18, 2008

todays post

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history of chilli

1618 - According to an old Southwestern American Indian legend and tale (several modern writer have documented - or maybe just "passed along") it is said that the first recipe for chili con carne was put on paper in the 17th century by a beautiful nun, Sister Mary of Agreda of Spain. She was mysteriously known to the Indians of the Southwest United States as "La Dama de Azul," the lady in blue. Sister Mary would go into trances with her body lifeless for days. When she awoke from these trances, she said her spirit had been to a faraway land where she preached Christianity to savages and counseled them to seek out Spanish missionaries.
It is certain that Sister Mary never physically left Spain, yet Spanish missionaries and King Philip IV of Spain believed that she was the ghostly "La Dama de Azul" or "lady in blue" of Indian Legend. It is said that sister Mary wrote down the recipe for chili which called for venison or antelope meat, onions, tomatoes, and chile peppers. No accounts of this were ever recorded, so who knows?
18th Century
1731 - On March 9, 1731, a group of sixteen families (56 persons) arrived from the Canary Islands at Bexar, the villa of San Fernando de Béxar (now know as the city of San Antonio). They had emigrated to Texas from the Spanish Canary Islands by order of King Philip V. of Spain. The King of Spain felt that colonization would help cement Spanish claims to the region and block France's westward expansion from Louisiana. These families founded San Antonio’s first civil government which became the first municipality in the Spanish province of Texas. According to historians, the women made a spicy “Spanish” stew that is similar to chili.
19th Century
Some Spanish priests were said to be wary of the passion inspired by chile peppers, assuming they were aphrodisiacs. A few preached sermons against indulgence in a food which they said was almost as "hot as hell's brimstone" and "Soup of the Devil." The priest's warning probably contributed to the dish's popularity.
1850 - Records were found by Everrette DeGolyer (1886-1956), a Dallas millionaire and a lover of chili, indicating that the first chili mix was concocted around 1850 by Texan adventurers and cowboys as a staple for hard times when traveling to and in the California gold fields and around Texas. Needing hot grub, the trail cooks came up with a sort of stew. They pounded dried beef, fat, pepper, salt, and the chile peppers together. This amounted to "brick chili" or "chili bricks" that could be boiled in pots along the trail. DeGolyer said that chili should be called "chili a la Americano" because the term chili is generic in Mexico and simply means a hot pepper. He believed that chili con carne began as the "pemmican of the Southwest."
It is said that some trail cooks planted pepper seeds, oregano, and onions in mesquite patches (to protect them from foraging cattle) to use on future trail drives. It is thought that the chile peppers used in the earliest dishes were probably chilipiquín0, which grow wild on bushes in Texas, particularly the southern part of the state.
There was another group of Texans known as "Lavanderas," or "Washerwoman," that followed around the 19th-century armies of Texas making a stew of goat meat or venison, wild marjoram and chile peppers.
1860 - Residents of the Texas prisons in the mid to late 1800s also lay claim to the creation of chili. They say that the Texas version of bread and water (or gruel) was a stew of the cheapest available ingredients (tough beef that was hacked fine and chiles and spices that was boiled in water to an edible consistency). The "prisoner's plight" became a status symbol of the Texas prisons and the inmates used to rate jails on the quality of their chili. The Texas prison system made such good chili that freed inmates often wrote for the recipe, saying what they missed most after leaving was a really good bowl of chili.
1880s - San Antonio was a wide-open town (a cattle town, a railroad town, and an army town) and by day a municipal food market and by night a wild and open place. An authoritative early account is provided in an article published in the July 1927 issue of Frontier Times. In this article, Frank H. Bushick, San Antonio Commissioner of Taxation, reminisces about the Chili Queens and their origin at Military Plaza before they were moved to Market Square in 1887. According to Bushick:
"The chili stand and chili queens are peculiarities, or unique institutions, of the Alamo City. They started away back there when the Spanish army camped on the plaza. They were started to feed the soldiers. Every class of people in every station of life patronized them in the old days. Some were attracted by the novelty of it, some by the cheapness. A big plate of chili and beans, with a tortilla on the side, cost a dime. A Mexican bootblack and a silk-hatted tourist would line up and eat side by side, [each] unconscious or oblivious of the other."
To view a photo of the Military Plaza and the Chili Queens, click here:
Latino women nicknamed "Chili Queens" sold stew they called "chili" made with dried red chiles and beef from open-air stalls at the Military Plaza Mercado. They made their chili at home, loaded it onto colorful chili wagons, and transported the wagons and chili to the plaza. They build mesquite fires on the square to keep the chili warm, lighted their wagons with colored lanterns, and squatted on the ground beside the cart, dishing out chili to customers who sat on wooden stools to eat their fiery stew. In those days, the world "chili" referred strictly to the pepper. They served a variation of simple, chile-spiked dishes (tamales, tortillas, chili con carne, and enchiladas). A night was not considered complete without a visit to one of these "chili queens." In 1937 they were put out of business due to their inability to conform to sanitary standards enforced in the town's restaurants (public officials objected to flies and poorly washed dishes). The following is reprinted from the San Antonio Light of September 12, 1937:
Recent action of the city health department in ordering removal from Haymarket square of the chili queens and their stands brought an end to a 200-year-old tradition. The chili queens made their first appearance a couple of centuries back after a group of Spanish soldiers camped on what is now the city hall site and gave the place the name, Military Plaza. At one time the chili queens had stands on Military, Haymarket and Alamo plazas but years ago the city confined them to Haymarket plaza. According to Tax Commissioner Frank Bushick, a contemporary and a historian of those times, the greatest of all the queens was no Mexican but an American named Sadie. Another famous queen was a senorita named Martha who later went on the stage. Writing men like Stephen Crane and O. Henry were impressed enough to immortalize the queens in their writings. With the disappearance from the plaza of the chili stands, the troubadors who roamed the plaza for years also have disappeared into the night. Some of the chili queens have simply gone out of business. Others, like Mrs. Eufemia Lopez and her daughters, Juanita and Esperanza Garcia, have opened indoor cafes elsewhere. But henceforth the San Antonio visitor must forego his dining on chili al fresco.
They were restored by Mayor Maury Maverick in 1939, but their stands were closed again shortly after the start of World War II.
During the 1980s, San Antonio began staging what they call "historic re-enactments" of the chili queens. As an tribute to chili, the state dish, the city of San Antonio holds an annual "Return of the Chili Queens Festival" in Market Square during the Memorial Day celebrations in May, sponsored by the El Mercado Merchants.
1881 - William Gerard Tobin (1833-1884), former Texas Ranger, hotel proprietor, and an advocate of Texas-type Mexican food, negotiated with the United States government to sell canned chili to the army and navy. In 1884, he organized a venture with the Range Canning Company at Fort McKavett, Texas to make chili from goat meat. Tobin's death, a few days after the canning operation had started, ended further developemnt and the venture failed.
1890 - Chili historians are not exactly certain who first "invented" chili powder. It is agreed that the inventors of chili powder deserve a slot in history close to Alfred Nobel (1933-1896), inventor of dynamite.
The Fort Worth chili buffs give credit to DeWitt Clinton Pendery. Pendery arrived in Fort Worth, Texas in 1870. It is said that local cowboys jeered his elegant appearance (he was wearing a long frock coat and a tall silk hat) as he stepped onto the dusty street. It is also said that he was initiated into the town by a bullet whipping through his coat. He casually collected his belongings and continued on his way, earning immediate popular respect. By 1890, after his grocery store burned down, he started selling his own unique blend of chiles to cafes, hotels, and citizens under the name of Mexican Chili Supply Company. Pendery's products are still sold today by members of his family. Pendery wrote of the medicinal benefits of his condiments and its acclamation from physicians:
"The health giving properties of hot chile peppers have no equal. They give tone to the alimentary canal regulating the functions, giving a natural appetite and promoting health by action of the kidneys, skin and lymphatics."
San Antonio buffs swear that chili powder was invented by William Gebhardt, a German immigrant in New Braunfels, Texas (now a suburb of San Antonio) around 1890. Since chiles were only available after the summer harvest, chili was only a seasonal food during that era. Gebhardt solved the problem by importing Mexican ancho chiles so that he could serve the dish year-round. At first he called the product "Tampico Dust." In 1896, he changed the name to Eagle Brand Chili Powder and registered his trademark, making it one of the oldest in the United States. In 1960, it was acquired by Beatrice Foods and is now known as Gebhardt Mexican Foods Company. The blend today is unchanged and is still one of the most popular brands used.
1893 - The Texas chili went national when Texas set up a San Antonio Chili Stand at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
1895 - Lyman T. Davis of Corsicana, Texas made chili that he sold from the back of a wagon for five cents a bowl with all the crackers you wanted. He later opened a meat market where he sold his chili in brick form, using the brand name of Lyman's Famous Home Made Chili. In 1921, he started to can chili in the back of his market and named it after his pet wolf, Kaiser Bill and called it Wolf Brand Chili (a picture of the wolf is still used on the label today).
In 1924, Davis quit the chili business when his ranch was found to have lots of oil. He sold his operations to J. C. West and Fred Slauson, two Corsicana businessmen. To draw attention to the Wolf Brand Chili, the new owners had Model T Ford trucks with cabs shaped like chili cans and painted to resemble the Wolf Brand label. A live wolf was caged in the back of each truck. Today the company is owned by Stokley-Van Camp in Dallas, Texas.
20th Century
Around the turn of the century, chili joints appeared in Texas. By the 1920s, they were familiar all over the West, and by the depression years, there was hardly a town that didn't have a chili parlor. The chili joints were usually no more than a shed or a room with a counter and some stools. Usually a blanket was hung up to separate the kitchen. By the depression years, the chili joints meant the difference between starvation and staying alive. Chili was cheap and crackers were free. At the time, chili was said to have saved more people from starvation than the Red Cross. The Dictionary of American Regional English describes chili joints as: "A small cheap restaurant, particularly one that served poor quality food."
1922 - Cincinnati style chili is quite different from its more familiar Texas cousin. It is unique to the Cincinnati area and it was created in 1922 by a Macedonian immigrant, Tom (Athanas) Kiradjieff. He settled in Cincinnati with his brother, John, and opened a hot dog stand with Greek food called the Empress, only to do a lousy business because nobody there at the time knew anything about Greek food. So, it is said, that they called their spaghetti chili. He200reated a chili m5de with Middle Eastern spices which could be served a variety of ways. His "five-way" was a concoction of a mound of spaghetti topped with chili, then with chopped onion, then red kidney beans, then shredded yellow cheese, and served with oyster crackers and a side order of hot dogs topped with shredded cheese. Check out my recipe for Cincinnati-Style Chili.
1936-2000 - Chasen's Restaurant in Hollywood, California probably made the most famous chili. The owner of the restaurant, Dave Chasen (1899-1973), ex-vaudeville performer, kept the recipe a secret, entrusting it to no one. For years, he came to the restaurant every Sunday to privately cook up a batch, which he would freeze for the week, believing that the chili was best when reheated. "It is a kind of bastard chili" was all that Dave Chasen would divulge.
Chauffeurs and studio people, actors and actresses would come to the back door of Chasen's to buy and pick up the chili by the quart. Other famous people craved this chili such as comedian and actor Jack Benny (1894-1974) who ordered it by the quart. J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who considered it the best chili in the world, and Eleanor Roosevelt (1894-1962) wife of the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, sought the recipe but was refused (a complimentary order was dispatched to her instead). It is said that Chasen's also send chili to movie actor Clark Gable (1901-1960), when he was in the hospital (he reportedly had it for dinner the night he died). During the filming of the movie Cleopatra in Rome, Italy, famous movie star, Elizabeth Taylor, had Chasen's Restaurant in Hollywood, California send 10 quarts of their famous chili to her. She supposedly paid $200 to have it shipped to her in Rome.
The original Chasen's restaurant closed in April of 1995, and the new Chasen's on Cañon Drive closed permanently in April of 2000.
So passionate are chili lovers that they hold competitions (some local, some international). One organization is the Chili Appreciation Society International which has approximately 50 "pods" or clubs in the United States and Canada and supports over 400 sanctioned chili cook offs involving thousands of participants each year. Chili competitions are held on a circuit each year (much like the system used for tennis and golf competitions).
1952 - Most present day historians write that the first World's Chili Championship was the 1967 cook-off in Terlingua, Texas (see 1967 below). Ranger Bob Ritchey of Texas proved this theory wrong. He researched and found several newspaper articles about the 1952 Texas State Fair Chili Championship. On October 5, 1952, headlines of The Daily Times Herald of Dallas, Texas said "Woman Wins But Men Do Well in Chili Event."
On October 5, 1952 at the Texas State Fair in Dallas, Texas. Mrs. F. G. Ventura of Dallas won the Texas State Fair contest and her recipe was declared the "Official State Fair of Texas Chili Recipe" and first ever "World Champion Chili Cook." Mrs. Ventura held her title as World Champions Chili Cook for fifteen years. The event was planned by Joe. E. Cooper (1895-1952), ex-newspaper man, to help promote his newly published book on chili called With or Without Beans - An Informal Biography of Chili. It was a no-holds-barred affair as to ingredients, except that beans could not be used. The contestants numbered fifty-five with five judges. Joe E. Cooper is quoted as saying: "Besides that, it'll take a lot of judges because after the first two or three spoonfuls of good, hot Texas-style chili, the fine edge wears off even an expert chili judge's taste buds... It'll be a hot job but one that no true Texan will shirk."
Unfortunately Joe. E. Cooper never lived to see how popular chili cook-offs would become. He died three months later on December 12, 1952.
1967 - The most famous and well known chili cook-off took place in 1967 in Terlingua, Texas. Terlingua was once a thriving mercury-mining town of 5,000 people and it is the most remote site your can choose as it is not close to any major city and the nearest commercial airport is almost 279 miles away. Just getting to Terlingua requires a major effort. It was a two-man cook-off between Texas chili champ Homer "Wick" Fowler (1909-1972), a Dallas and Denton newspaper reporter, and H. Allen Smith (1906-1976), New York humorist and author, which ended in a tie.
The cook-off challenge started when H. Allen Smith wrote a story for the August 1967 Holiday Magazine titled Nobody Knows More About Chili Than I Do, which claimed that no one in Texas could make proper chili. Smith contended that ". . . no living man, I repeat, can put together a pot of chili as ambrosial, as delicately and zestfully flavorful, as the chili I make." His article included his recipe for chili that included beans.
Of course, this offended many Texans who would never consider adding beans to their chili. When Frank Tolbert (1912-1984), famous journalist and author of A Bowl of Red, saw Smith's article, he started open warfare in the press with a column he wrote for the Dallas News. A reader suggested that Fowler answer the challenge, which he did. The cook-off competition ended in a tie vote when the tie-breaker judge, Dave Witts, a Dallas lawyer and self-proclaimed mayor of Terlingua, spat out his chili, declaring that his taste buds were "ruint," and said they would have to do the whole thing over again next year.
According to Gary Cartwright, writer for Sports Illustrated, the blindfolded judge number three, David Witts, was given a spoonful of chili which he promptly spit out all over the referee's foot. "Then he went into convulsions. He rammed a white handerkerchief down his throat as though he were cleaning a rifle barrel, and in an agonizing whisper Witts pronounced himself unable to go on."
1977 - The chili manufacturers of the state of Texas, successfully lobbied the Texas legislature to have chili proclaimed the official "state food" of Texas "in recognition of the fact that the only real 'bowl of red' is that prepared by Texans."
1993 - People of Springfield, Illinois take their chili very seriously. They even spell it differently than the rest of the United States. This peculiar spelling of "chilli" in Springfield originated with the founder of the Dew Chilli Parlor in 1909. His sign in the parlor was misspelled. Other folks believe the spelling matches the first four letters in Illinois. In 1993, the Illinois State Senate passed a resolution proclaiming that Springfield, Illinois was to be the "Chilli Capital of the Civilized World." Naturally this outrages Texans!

history of carrot

The bright orange fleshy root vegetable we know today as the carrot is a far cry from its wild ancestor, a small tough, pale fleshed acrid root plant. Probably no one would be eating carrots that were once small, very thin, red, purple, and even black taproots with a distasteful bitterness if no one had taken an interest in improving their flavour. Luckily, some motivated Dutch people took carrots under their horticultural wings and taught them how to be sweet, it's a long story.
The Wild Carrot - Daucus Carota - is one of the many plants which belongs to the natural order Umbelliferae. It is a common plant in pastures and by roadsides and especially likes light soils where it can soon turn into a weed.
To unravel the long history of the Carrot you have to go back a very long way. Fossil pollen from the Eocene period (55 to 34 million years ago) has been identified as belonging to the Apiaceae (the carrot family). The carrot dates back about 5,000 years ago when the root was found to be growing in the area now known as Afghanistan. Temple drawings from Egypt in 2000 BC show a purple plant, which some Egyptologists believe to be a purple carrot. Egyptian papyruses containing information about treatment with carrot and its seeds were found in pharaoh crypts. Throughout the centuries Arab merchants travelled the trade routes of Arabia, Asia and Africa bringing home to their villages the seeds of the purple carrot. During these years the vegetable appeared in a variety of hues ranging from purple to white, pale yellow, red, green/yellow and black (but never orange! - that came about in the 15th century).
In Roman times carrots were purple or white. By the 10th century purple carrots were grown in Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern Iran. Moorish invaders are thought to have brought the purple and yellow variety from North Africa to Southern Europe around the 12th century. By the 13th century carrots are known to have grown in the fields of Germany and France.
Purple, white and yellow carrots were imported to southern Europe in the 14th century. Black, red and green/yellow carrots were also grown. Flemish refugees eventually introduced the vegetable to the shores of England in the 15th century.
The noble carrot has long been known as an orange vegetable thanks to patriotic Dutch growers who bred the vegetable to make it less bitter than the yellow varieties, and then it was adopted it as the Royal vegetable in honour of the House of Orange. Carrots were originally purple or red, with a thin root. The species did not turn orange until the 1500's when Dutch agricultural scientists and growers used a mutant yellow carrot seed from North Africa to develop a carrot in the colour of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family. In an attempt to "nationalize" the country's favourite vegetable they began experiments on improving the pale yellow versions by cross breeding them with red varieties. These varieties contain beta carotene to produce orange-coloured roots This was developed to become the dominant species across the world - wonderful, sweet orange. (more on the next page)
The Beginnings
The Carrot originated some 5000 years ago in Middle Asia around Afghanistan, and slowly spread into the Mediterranean area. The first carrots were white, purple, red, yellow/green and black - not orange. Its roots were thin and turnip shaped. Temple drawings from Egypt in 2000 B.C. show a plant which some Egyptologists believe to represent a large carrot. Egyptian papyruses contain information about treatment with carrot and its seeds were found in pharaoh crypts. Carrot seeds have been found in prehistoric Swiss lake dwellings in Ronbenhausen giving clear evidence of human consumption. There is however no evidence of cultivation at this stage, more likely they were used for medicinal purposes. Similar findings appear also in ancient Glastonbury. Neolithic people savoured the roots of the wild carrot for its sweet, succulent flavour.
Carrots were recognised as one of the plants in the garden of the Egyptian king Merodach-Baladan in the eighth century B.C. It was placed amongst the aromatic herbs along with fennel, suggesting that the root was discounted, using only the pleasantly scented flowers and leaves in cooking. Merodach Baladan was the king of Babylon in 702 b.c., a Chaldean and father of Nabopolassar and grandfather of Nebuchadnezzar.
The exact lineage of carrots is difficult to trace as it was often confused by early horticulturalists with the parsnip, its close relative.
Carrots were well known to both the Greeks and Romans. During the first century, the Greeks cultivated a variety of root crops that included leeks, onions, radishes, turnips, and a poorly developed variety of carrots. The unpleasant tasting carrots were rarely eaten but were applied medicinally. Though the Greeks excelled in cultivating many food plants, they never succeeded in developing the carrot into a flavourful vegetable. Even Galen, the 2nd century physician at the court of Marcus Aurelius, stated that the wild carrot is less fit to be eaten than the cultivated variety. They cultivated carrots in their kitchen gardens. These varieties are thought to have been 'forked' with white roots, not unlike the roots of today's wild carrot.
The Romans often ate carrots raw, dressed in oil, salt and vinegar or they cooked them with a sauce made from cumin, salt, old wine and oil. The Romans invading Britain in the second century AD brought leeks, onions, garden carrots, garlic, fennel, mint, thyme, parsley and coriander to name but a few. The Greeks called the carrot "Philtron" and used it as a love medicine to make men more ardent and women more yielding. The Carrot is mentioned by Greek and Latin writers under various names however it was not always distinguished from the Parsnip and Skirret, which are closely allied to it. The name Pastinace was used for both at the time of Pliny the Elder and is based on the verb pastinare - to dig up. Galen in the 2nd century attempted to distinguish the two by giving the wild carrot the name Daucus Pastinaca.
The Greeks had three words each of which could be applied to the properties of the carrot: "Sisaron", first occurring in the writings of Epicharmus, a comic poet (500 B.C.); "Staphylinos", used by Hippocrates (430 B.C.) and "Elaphoboscum", used by Dioscorides (first century AD).
Hippocrates (430BC) The physician and scholar is well known and revered as the father of modern medicine and formalised many herbal cures. Less known is the stress he placed on diet in maintaining health. In medical science, people basically thought the mind and the body was an inseparable thing and the moral view of disease was that diseases were a punishment for a sin. On the other hand Hippocrates saw that diseases occur by natural causes. The assertion of Hippocrates, a doctor from Cos Island in Greece and that of his followers remains and his complete works have commanded universal admiration for a long time as the highest scriptures in the field of medical science. Even today the sublime spirit of Hippocrates serves as pattern for others, so every person seeking for the occupation of doctor is bound to swear the Hypocritical oath at least once.
Hippocrates said "Let food be your medicine and medicine your food". In the following description of cooking methods, his primary concern is to counteract the potentially harmful effects of strongly flavoured foods with the ultimate goal of easing their digestion and passage through the body. He also reveals some of the basic preferences of ancient Greek cuisine.
"The powers of foods severally ought to be diminished or increased in the following way...Take away their power from strong foods by boiling and cooling many times; remove moisture from moist things by grilling and roasting them; soak and moisten dry things, soak and boil salt things, bitter and sharp things mix with sweet, and astringent things mix with oily." For example, foods like cabbage, carrots and turnips were boiled several times, fish or lamb would have been grilled, and an herb like sorrel would have been dressed with oil.
Columella (1st century AD) briefly mentions the carrot. He talks of the field parsnip and a cultivated variety which bears the name and which the Greeks called "staphylinos". He also mentions that the unopened flowers were collected and stored as herbs. Columella, Lucius Junius Moderatus - (b. 1st century AD, Gades, Spain) was a Roman soldier and farmer who wrote a twelve volume treatise on all aspects of Roman farming and extensively on agriculture and kindred subjects in the hope of arousing a love for farming and a simple life. He became in early life a tribune of the legion stationed in Syria, but neither an army career nor the law attracted him, and he took up farming in Italy.
Emperor Caligula (A.D. 37-51) a renowned crazed megalomaniac given to capricious cruelty and harebrained schemes, including attempting to make his horse, Incitatus, a consul. He is purported to have once fed the entire Roman Senate a banquet only of carrot dishes, believing their aphrodisiac powers would get people in the mood.
The Roman emperor Caligula, believing these stories, forced the whole Roman Senate to eat carrots so he could see them "in rut like wild beasts."
Pliny the Elder, (A.D. 23-79) a Roman Historian and scientist refers to a plant grown in Syria resembling a parsnip, called in Italy Gallicam and in Greece Daucon. Pliny said: "There is one kind of wild pastinaca which grows spontaneously; by the Greeks it is known as staphylinos. Another kind is grown either from the root transplanted or else from seed, the ground being dug to a very considerable depth for the purpose. It begins to be fit for eating at the end of the year, but it is still better at the end of two; even then, however, it preserves its strong pungent flavour, which it is found impossible to get rid of." In speaking of the medicinal virtue he adds "the cultivated form has the same as the wild kind, though the latter is more powerful, especially when grown in stony places. Pliny called its root "pasticana gallica" : "food for Gauls", but it was not eaten as a vegetable prior to the Middle Ages.
In Latin, pastinaca refers to the parsnip or the carrot. Related words in that language are pastinare, 'to dig', and pastinum, a two-pronged digging fork or dibble, which probably lent its name to these vegetables because they so often formed forked roots in the ground. In archaic English pastinate, means 'land prepared for planting'. Pliny also said "It has become quite a common proverb that in wine there is truth."
Pliny died in A.D. 79 while observing the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius. In A.D. 77 he wrote the first encyclopaedia, Historia Naturalis, in which he "set forth in detail all the contents of the entire world." . It was composed of 37 books on natural history in all its phases including meteorology, zoology, geography and botany. This work contains a large amount of information found nowhere else. Headless people were among the many marvels it reported. He reported that it involved 2000 volumes but if so, most have been lost. This work had a profound influence on biology throughout the Middle Ages and practically until the end of the 18th Century. In fact it was the basis for the encyclopaedias of Bartholomaeus Anglicus, Konrad of Megenberg and others.
It is Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40-c. 90) catalogued over 600 medicinal plant species during his first century travels as a roman army doctor and who accurately describes the modern carrot. He was from Anazarbus, a small town near Tarsus in what is now south-central Turkey. As a surgeon and physician with the Roman army of Emperor Nero, Dioscorides travelled through Italy, Gaul, Spain, and North Africa, recording the existence and medicinal value of hundreds of plants. He compiled an extensive listing of medicinal herbs and their virtues in about 70 A.D. Originally written in Greek, Dioscorides' herbal was later translated into Latin as De Materia Medica. It remained the standard reference and authority on medicinal plants for over 1500 years. Dioscorides said that the Greeks used carrot leaves against cancerous tumours. He may have learned his medicine by practical experience while in the legions and he most certainly relied on an earlier work by the physician Crateuas. His work describes some 600 plants and their possible medical use.
Dioscorides wrote "Ye root ye thickness of a finger, a span long, sweet-smelling, edible being sodden [boiled]. Of this ye seed being drank...and it is good for ye [painful discharge of urine] in potions, and for ye bitings and strokes of venomous beasts; they say also, that they which take it before hand shall take no wrong of wilde beasts. It co-operates also to conception, and it also being [diuretic], both provoketh [poison], and being applied; but the leaves being beaten small with honey, and laid on, doth cleanse rapidly spreading destructive ulceration of soft tissues." He recommended the seeds of Wild Carrot for the relief of urinary retention, to stimulate menstruation and to "wake up the genital virtue."
Apicius Czclius, (ad 14-37) a wealthy Roman merchant of the reign of Tiberius, whose real name was Marcus Gavio, was the greatest expert of gastronomy in antiquity and devoted his life and own money to the art of cooking. He taught haute cuisine under Augustus and Tiberius and enjoyed the reputation of a wealthy and decadent gourmet.
Stories of his legendary wealth and excesses abounded and he passed in to history as a kind of croesus of the kitchen. Apicius is primarily remembered as a deranged, sadistic and extravagant tyrant. The historian Aelius Lampridius depicts him feasting on flamingo's' brains, the heads of parrots, sow's udder and vegetables seasoned with precious jewels.
His work "De Re Coquinaria" (on cookery) is the most important cooking treatise in Latin. It is divided into 11 Chapters and reveals the evolution of taste in terms of food and lifestyle of the Roman upper class up to the Fall of the Roman Empire. This work is reputedly the oldest cookbook in the world and captures for all time the essence of what was best in the art of Roman cooking. Chapter III of Apicius' book was "The Gardener - Cepuros - Vegetables". This chapter describes meals eaten across civilised Europe during the centuries of Roman domination. They constitute the foundations of western cookery, shorn of food additives and artificial preservatives.
These recipes specifically include carrots:
1. Caroetae Frictea: oenogaro inferuntur - which was fried carrots served with oenogerum.
2. Aliter Caroetas: sale, oleo puro et aceto - Another method: (raw) with salt, pure oil and vinegar.
3. Caroetas Elixatus: concisas in cuminato oleo modico coques et inferes. - Boil the carrots and chop. Cook in cumin sauce with a little oil and serve. 4. Carotae et Pastinacae (Carrots and Parsnips) - carrots and or parsnips fried in a white wine sauce. Presumably the vegetable(s) are fried first, and then served with the sauce. An important note here that carrots of the Roman time were NOT orange in colour. This colour wasn't developed until around the 15th-16th centuries. The correct colours for carrots in Roman times were white or purple. Interestingly several of the Apicius recipes are very poisonous and should not be re-created!! Find out more here. His recipes rarely included any indication of quantities, and ingredients were often enumerated without any direction on how they should be used. This means that his books were probably only used by experienced cooks. One tip in this Book is "How to cook all vegetables the colour of emeralds is to cook them with soda".
Here is what appears to be a carrot, accompanying olives and a little bowl of dip, from a wall painting in a Roman tavern in Ostia (Caseggiato del Termopolio). Compliments of Bill Thayer (Lacus Curtius) the real expert on Roman antiquities. See his site here.
In Roman times more civilized early Mediterranean communities knew about the carrot and supplies were specially imported from Germany for the table of Tiberius. The Romans often ate carrots raw, dressed in oil, salt and vinegar or they cooked them with a sauce made from cumin, salt, old wine and oil. The Romans invading Britain in the second century AD brought leeks, onions, garden carrots, garlic, fennel, mint, thyme, parsley and coriander to name but a few. Roman soups could be quite complicated affairs. Perhaps the oldest surviving soup recipe in the world appears in Apicius' fourth century cook book, based on the notes of a cook who had died three centuries earlier. The soup in question is Pultes Iulianae, or Julian Pottage, and the recipe is as follows: First prepare a wheat gruel by boiling up some pre-soaked wheat with water and a little olive oil, and stir vigorously to thicken. Then pound up half a pound of minced meat in a mortar, with two brains, some pepper, lovage and fennel seed, and add wine and liquamen (fermented fish sauce, a little like modern South East Asian versions). Cook the mixture in a metal vessel, add some stock, and add the result to the wheat gruel. Voila!
The Romans transported and stored their liquids, including their much prized wine and oil (for cooking carrots) in vessels called amphorae. These were large, two-handled pottery jugs often in red brown sandy ware. (The word amphora is Greek for "two ears".) In Roman times the amphora was used as a unit of liquid measure containing 2 urnae, 8 congii, or 48 sextarii (the latter, equivalent to a pint). One amphora thus equalled about 6 gallons or 24 litres. The amphora was also used as a measurement of ship tonnage, equivalent to 80 Roman pounds. Literally millions of pottery amphorae were used in commerce throughout the empire. Vessels and shards of Roman amphorae, commonly found at archaeology sites, thus serve as a ready means of tracing the spread of the wine trade in and beyond the empire (for example, in Britain and Gaul prior to Caesar). Interestingly enough one amphora is called the carrot amphora because of its shape!.
The lower class Romans (plebeians) might have a dinner of porridge made of vegetables, or, when they could afford it, fish, bread, olives, and wine, and meat on occasions.
Apicius was the classical glutton, his colossal banquets eventually drove him to bankruptcy and suicide, but he left behind a cookbook so prized that it has been preserved, in numerous editions, down to the 21st century. The Martial Epigrams quote: "After you spent 60 million sesterces on your stomach, Apicius, 10 million remained. An embarrassment you said, fit only to satisfy mere hunger and thirst. So your last and most expensive meal was poison. Apicius you never were more a glutton than at the end."
The Latin word "sphondyli" has two meanings in the work of Apicius. Sometimes it refers to carrots or artichokes and in others it refers to mussels. The ancients cultivated the species "Heracleum Sphondylium" which is the parsnip a similar plant to carrots.
Apicius wrote two cook books and a special book on sauces and his name is linked to several culinary inventions. Claudius Galen of Pergamum (130-200?) was the most outstanding physician of antiquity after Hippocrates. He served at the court of Marcus Aurelius. Galen's medical writings (comprising nearly a hundred treatises) became the standard source of medical knowledge for centuries. His experimental work was pioneering: he demonstrated the function of the nervous system by cutting animals' spinal cords at different points and observing their resulting paralysis. He was the first to consider the diagnostic value of taking a subject's pulse, and was the first to identify several muscles.
He also studied the heart and urinary system, and proved that the arteries are full of blood. He believed that blood originated in the liver, and sloshed back and forth through the body, passing through the heart, where it was mixed with air, by pores in the septum. His anatomical studies on animals and observations of how the human body functions dominated medical theory and practice for 1400 years. Galen was born of Greek parents in Pergamum, Asia Minor, which was then part of the Roman Empire.
A shrine to the healing god Asclepius was located in Pergamum, and there young Galen observed how the medical techniques of the time were used to treat the ill or wounded. He received his formal medical training in nearby Smyrna and then travelled widely, gaining more medical knowledge. In about 161 he settled in Rome, where he became renowned for his skill as a physician, his animal dissections, and his public lectures.Galen commanded "garden Carrots higher to break the wind, yet experience teacheth they breed it first, and we may thank nature for expelling it. The seeds expel wind indeed and so mend what the root marreth". The name Daucus pastinaca was given to the wild carrot by Galen in attempt to distinguish it from parsnip. Galen said that the wild carrot "is less fit to be eaten than the cultivated variety".

From the Collection Bertarelli, Milan Medicatrina, A Clinic Scene (left).This illustration accompanying Galen’s work shows the surgical procedures described by Galen--on the head, eye, leg, mouth, bladder and genitals--still practiced in the 16th century.
The name Carota for the garden Carrot is found first in the writings of Athenaeus (A.D. 200), and in the book on cookery by Apicius Czclius. It was Galen the Greek physician (second century A.D.) who named the wild carrot Daucus pastinaca (adding the name Daucus) to distinguish the Carrot from the Parsnip, though confusion remained steadfast until botanist Linnaeus set the record straight in the 18th century with his system of plant classification. The scientific name he gave the carrot is Daucus carota, the parsnip Pastinaca sativa.
Although human dissections had fallen into disrepute, he always stressed to his students the importance of practicing on humans and recommended that students practice dissection as often as possible. Galen believed everything in nature has a purpose, and that nature uses a single object for more than one purpose whenever possible. He maintained that "the best doctor is also a philosopher," and so advocated that medical students be well-versed in philosophy, logic, physics, and ethics. To learn more about Galen visit this site. Galen also said "All that's old shall be new again." Galen was physician to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He remains most famous for his codification of Hippocrates's 'four humors' as personality traits (a concept later adopted by Adler in his 'Four Lifestyle Theory'). He was the first to identify the brain-mind relation, the basic working structure of the eye and ear, as well as distinguishing differences between motor and sensory nerves (i.e., so-called affective and effective impulses). Did you know Galen is credited with investigating increased physiological activity amongst lovers? The next time you are near to your lover check to see whether your pulse races and pupils dilate! Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Egypt, the garrulous scholar from 200ad, considered the carrot and the parsnip the same vegetable. The problem of classification was finally resolved by the master classifier, Linnaeus, who put the parsnip in a genus of its own, but refused to recognise the cultivated carrot as specifically distinct from its wild cousin Queen Anne's Lace. Both are known as Daucus Carota. His anthological work, the Deipnosophistae (Banquet of the Sophists), is a collection of anecdotes, after dinner stories, memorabilia and excerpts from ancient writers whose works are otherwise lost.
Athenaeus wrote:1. "A change of meat is often good, and those who are wearied of common food take new pleasure in a novel meal," and 2. " Every investigation which is guided by principles of Nature fixes its ultimate aim entirely on gratifying the stomach".
The carrot was certainly cultivated in the Mediterranean area before the Christian Era, but it was not important as a food until much later. There is a long gap of about 900 years between the writings of the Greeks and Romans of the first to third centuries and the next clear records about the carrot.

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