Saturday, August 19, 2023

History of Celery

Celery is believed to have its origins in the Mediterranean region, although evidence from Switzerland's archaeological findings suggests that humans were already transporting celery seeds as far back as 4,000 B.C. The uncultivated variety of celery can be located in wetland areas across moderate Europe and Western Asia.

Homer's "Iliad" portrays the horses of Myrmidons grazing on wild celery within Troy's marshes. Similarly, the "Odyssey" mentions meadows that encompass violets and wild celery, encircling Calypso's cave.

In antiquity, celery was connected to funeral rites and held as a symbol of ill fortune. In ancient Greece, celery leaves were fashioned into garlands for the deceased and wreaths awarded to triumphant warriors. Archaeological evidence even indicates the discovery of wild celery garlands in early Egyptian tombs.

Both Egypt and Rome harnessed the medicinal potential of wild celery, often employing it as a remedy for hangovers or as an aphrodisiac. The Romans also favored wild celery leaves for crafting crowns worn by victorious athletes.

While celery's widespread cultivation likely didn't begin until the Middle Ages, historical records show it was under cultivation before 850 B.C. Celery's cultivation initiated in the lowlands of Italy before diffusing to France and England.

Around 1623, the French introduced celery as a food source. For nearly a century, its primary use was as a flavor enhancer due to the intense taste of early varieties.

During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, there were initial indications of efforts to improve the wild type of celery in Italy, France, and England.

In the 17th century, the Italians succeeded in domesticating celery as a vegetable. Over time, growers managed to diminish the bitterness and the presence of hollow stalks that were characteristic of celery during that period.

Throughout the 19th century, in the United States, England, and much of Europe, it was widely held that blanching the green edible parts of celery was essential to mitigate the excessively strong flavor and green color.
History of Celery

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