Wednesday, June 20, 2012

toga dining

Native to Europe, chicory is now common in the United States and southern Canada. Its cheery blue flowers can be found growing along roadsides throughout the country at this time of the year.

During the Great Depression (and most people that lived through it didn't think it was all that great) chicory's dried roots and leaves were used as a substitute for coffee but its use at the dinner table can be traced all the way back to toga times. The Roman poet Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet: "Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae." (Roughly, "As for me, I eat olives, chicory and mallows.")

With its bitter and spicy taste, the roadside plant was an ingredient in typical Roman recipes, most often fried with garlic and red pepper, served with potatoes and meat.

If I thought that I would look good in a toga, I might try some for supper, but quite frankly, I'm not sure that any man looks good in such attire. Although, with its loose fit, I wouldn't fret if I put on a few extra pounds.

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