Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Winter Fennel

Fennel with umbrella-shaped, summer flowers

Fennel loves our winter climate. I grow it in our backyard  in a somewhat protected area. I participated in a class at Central Market to expand my repertoire of salad offerings. So, having never used fresh fennel, I was intrigued. Fennel is a member of the family Apiaceae, which also includes dill, cumin, coriander, caraway and parsley. It is grown for its feathery foliage, which is used fresh; for its bulbous root and stalks, which can be used raw or cooked; and for its dried seeds, which are used to flavor savory Mediterranean dishes.
After reading a herbal break down on fennel one would begin to believe it is a medicinal miracle food. I tend to serve a broad spectrum of seasonal vegetables with herbs with a philosophy of balance with an assortment for a healthy diet.

Below is a 16th century botanical plate found in "Discourses", a book compiled by Mattioli. It has a fascinating history. Initially, belonging to a convent in Casteldurante. it now resides in the Alessandrina Library of Rome where it currently holds a very specific shelf tag of, Rari 278.

fennel botanical Plate

'discourses on materia medica of dioscorides' 
pietro andrea mattioli (1501-1577)
venice 1568