“The fennel is beyond every other vegetable, delicious. It greatly resembles in appearance the largest size celery, perfectly white, and there is no vegetable equals it is flavor. It is eaten at dessert, crude, and with, or without dry salt, indeed I preferred it to every other vegetable, or to any fruit.” Thomas Jefferson
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a member of the celery family Apiaceae and is related to cumin, dill and anise. It is native to southern Europe but can also be found in northern Europe, Australia and North America and is cultivated around the world.
Fennel has a long history of use as a carminative (against flatulence), weight-loss aid and to aid digestion, and seeds have been eaten during Lent and fasts to fend off hunger. Furthermore, fennel has been used as aphrodisiac and to encourage menstruation and lactation.
The Greeks and the Romans used the seeds, blossoms and leaves of the fennel for medicinal and culinary purposes. The Greek name for fennel is μάραθον, marathon, and the city where the battle of Marathon took place literally means plain with fennels.
Florence fennel (Foeniculum dulce), the variety eaten as a vegetable, was not developed until the 17th century.
In medieval times, people used fennel, together with St. John’s Wort and other herbs, as a preventative of witchcraft and other evil influences. They hung it over doors on Midsummer’s Eve to warn off evil spirits.
Today we know that fennel contains its own unique combination of phytonutrients, including the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides, that give it its strong antioxidant activity. The most fascinating phytonutrient compound in fennel may be anethole, the primary component of its volatile oil. Anethole has been studied and it has been shown to reduce inflammation and to help prevent the occurrence of cancer.
Fennel is also an excellent source of vitamin C, the body´s primary water-soluble antioxidant, able to neutralize free radicals in all aqueous environments of the body.
a garden plant that is grown for its seeds, stems, and leaves (source: Merriam Webster).
The English fennel comes from Old English fenol/finul, perhaps via Old French fenoil or directly from Vulgar Latin fenuculum, from Latin feniculum, diminutive of fenum/faenum, hay. Apparently so called from its hay-like appearance and sweet odor (source: www.etymonline.com).
Dutch venkel has the same origins.
Spanish hinojo and Italian finocchio come directly from Vulgar Latin fenuculum, from Latin feniculum, diminutive of fenum/faenum, hay.
Fennel in other languages:
Spanish: el hinojo
Italian: il finocchio
Categories: Food and Drinks