Private: Number 1


Known as the “Aristocrat of vegetables”, asparagus is a member of the lily family. It has been recorded back to Egyptian, Greek and Roman times when it was very popular. It is now cultivated all around the world. There is also “wild asparagus” which tends to be thin, like the variety we call “sprue” or grass”. There are two main varieties: In Germany, Belgium and France the type with white spears are preferred whereas in Italy, the Netherlands, the United States, Ireland and the UK, the green or purple speared type is preferred.

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Private: Number 2


Aubergines were first recorded in Europe in the 13th century, when they were imported to the Mediterranean by Italian traders from the East. Regarded with some suspicion at first, the aubergine was cultivated as a purely ornamental plant until the end of the 15th century, when it finally became accepted as a vegetable. Aubergines are a member of the solanum family, which includes the potato, the tomato and the deadly nightshade!

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Private: Number 3

Artichokes (Globe and Jerusalem)

Although they share the term”artichoke”, globe and jerusalem artichokes differ in appearance quite a lot. Globe artichokes originated in Asia and have been grown in Southern Europe for centuries. They are thought to have been introduced to Britain during the reign of King Henry VIII and have two main varieties; purple and green. The jerusalem artichoke was first cultivated in North America and was introduced to France in the early 17th century. It is thought they are called artichokes because of the similarity in flavour between them and globe artichokes. The word “Jerusalem” may have come from a corruption of the place name Ter Heusen, in the Netherlands, from where they were exported to the UK.

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Private: Number 4


There are many different varieties of green beans, the most widely available of which are broad beans, runner beans and French beans. Broad beans have been grown since prehistoric times and are native to North America. They were the only beans grown in Europe before Columbus discovered America and were a staple food for peasants in many countries in the Middle Ages. Runner (or stick) beans are native to Central America and were introduced to the UK by Charles the 1st’s gardener. French beans are a dwarf green bean variety that was introduced to the UK from America during the reign of Elizabeth the 1st.

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Private: Number 5


Beetroot was used in ancient Greek and Roman cookery and was one of the foods that the Greeks considered worthy of offering to Apollo at Delphi. In Polish, Scandinavian and Russian cooking, beetroot is extensively used as it grows best in temperate cool regions. Victorians were more adventurous with them, though- using them in salads, hot or cold… or even using them as a hair rinse or clothes dye.

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Private: Number 6


Broccoli belongs to the brassica family. One of the most popular varieties of broccoli is the calbrese, which comes from the Calabria region of Italy, hence its name. It is a variety of broccoli that dates back to the Middle and Roman ages and was introduced into France by Catherine de Medici in 1560 and into Britain in 1720. Broccoli grows well in temperate climates across Europe.

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Private: Number 7

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts developed from the wild cabbage and are thought to have originated in Belgium, near Brussels in the 13th and 14th centuries, hence the name. They re-appeared in French and English gardens at the end of the 18th century. They have become one of Europe’s favourite winter vegetables, especially popular eaten with game and at Christmas with the traditional turkey lunch.

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Private: Number 8


There are many types of cabbage, including green, white and red varieties which may be conical or round, loose leaved or tightly packed. Cabbages have been grown for thousands of years and are known to have been pickled by the builders of the Great Wall of China around 200 BC. The word cabbage originated from the Latin “caput”, meaning head.

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Private: Number 9


The carrot is one of the most popular “root vegetables”. It has not always been the bright orange that it is today. Before the Middle Ages, carrots were yellow or purple. It was the Flemish who introduced the orange variety to Europe during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the 1st. At one point in history, they were considered such an exotic food that the court ladies of Charles the 1st used to wear the feathery leaves as decoration in their gown.

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Private: Number 10


The cauliflower is a member of the cabbage (brassica) family and its name originates from the old English “coleflower”, meaning “cabbage flower”. It is thought to have originated in the Middle East, appearing in Europe in the 13th or 14th centuries. The Elizabethans were known to eat them, importing them from Spain. According to Mark Twain, a cauliflower “is nothing but a cabbage with a college education!”

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Private: Number 11


Celeriac is sometimes called “turnip-rooted celery” and was developed in Rennaisance times by European gardeners. It was introduced into this country in the 18th century by a seedman and is only now becoming a popular winter vegetable. Celeriac, which is a member of the parsley family, has a bulbous-like base with a celery flavour.

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Private: Number 12


Celery has been cultivated for centuries- the ancient Greeks and Egyptians ate it and the Romans wore it as protection against hangovers! It was introduced to England from Italy in the 1640’s. It is native to Europe but is also grown in the USA. It originally grew as a wild plant in the marshy lands of Southern Asia and Europe, before it was cultivated.

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Private: Number 13

Courgettes and Marrows

These are both members of the “squash” family, which range in size from finger length courgettes to huge pumpkins. Squashes tend to have subtle flavours and a high water content. Many squashes are available all year round but are divided into two categories “summer” and “winter” varieties. Marrows and courgettes are summer squashes. Marrows have long been popular while the courgette is a relative newcomer, considered quite a delicacy and served in only the most exclusive restauarants right up until the 1970’s. Nowadays, courgettes are widely available and it is their flower, when stuffed and deep fried, that is now considered a delicacy.

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Private: Number 14


Cucumbers are thought to have originated in Asia and have been grown in India for 3,000 years. They were enjoyed by the Chinese and the Ancient Greeks. They were introduced to Britain in the 14th Century but only during the 16th century did they become a popular delicacy, when Dr. Johnson said they should be sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar and then thrown away “as good for nothing”! Victorians grew coloured cucumbers, with white, yellow, blue and bronze ones available alongside green.

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Private: Number 15


Arab mythology relates that the first garlic sprang from the footprint of the devil as he left Eden. More positively, the benficial effects of the vegetable were known as far back as the Ancient Egyptians. In Britain, garlic was once considered to be a protection against evil spirits, when worn around the neck. The name “garlic” comes from the old English “gar” (a spear) and “leac” (a leak).

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