These interesting and informative challenges are courtesy of Chef Daniel Lesnes, 

Garibaldi Secondary School 


Long a European favourite, we are common in northern parts of Europe, North America, including Mexico, in Asia, including Turkey and the Himalayas (including Kashmir, Nepal, and Bhutan), and in Africa including Zambia, Congo and Uganda. See! you don’t have any excuse for not having us in your plate.

We have grown in the forest for as long as the trees. We tend to grow in clusters in mossy coniferous forests, but we are also often found in mountainous birch forests and among grasses and low-growing herbs. We grow in a symbiotic relationship with living trees, gathering moisture and minerals to feed the trees, and in return, trees offer us food in the form of photosynthesized carbohydrates. Because of that intricate relationship, we are almost impossible to cultivate and are not yet commercially grown (although researchers are trying). Some species of our family can grow quite large, up to six inches high, weighing close to half a pound, but usually, we are closer to half that size, with some of us being only a few ounces. We can only be handpicked, usually summer through late winter.

Some say we smell woodsy and of apricot; our flavours are all exquisite, from pleasantly mild to flowery or nutty. Our name refers to our entire family, but is often applied only to the most favoured golden child, amongst the many colours we wear. We have a very particular shape, but don't blow me. You'll want us firm, plump, smooth, clean and unbroken.

Everything in us is edible and we retain my firm texture when cooked. Enjoy us fresh or cook us with our best friends--chicken and other light meats, cream, starches and grains. You'll love us simply simmered in butter. We also make a wonderful sauté, stuffing, sauce or side dish. Only some of us are good dried, since many of us won't reconstitute well. We are very low in calories, mostly protein and carbohydrates, with traces of vitamins and minerals.

Look closely and don't confuse us with a look-alike, poisonous Jack O'Lantern in North America. In 1836, the Swedish mycologist considered us "as one of the most important and best edible mushrooms.” A Pyrenees dog breed, wildflowers, restaurants, and the first string of a violin share our name. And believe it or not, some folks from Delta, BC like us soooooo much they have a Facebook page just for us, is it cool or what?? check it out!

click here for answer


Accidents happen and that's why I am here! The head gardener of our Botanical Gardens forgot about my roots left covered in soil in the cellar. He discovered that my roots produced lovely, pale, tight cone shaped heads. It took another few decades before my growing method was perfected but once introduced to the general public, I became as firmly established in my country’s cuisine as 'Moules frites' or chocolates.  I really gained fame in 1850 when I helped save the capital of my country from famine. 

My common name comes from a relative's Latin surname and we both share a Latin first name. Members of the Composite family, our names have been interchanged through the years, but only I have a Flemish name and have been called white gold. 

I am an herb an it is my complex cultivated form that is a delicacy -- they cut off my head, hide me in the dark, and wait for my second growth. This sounds like torture, but this is the only way I can survive! Then I am sold wrapped in blue paper to protect it from light, I am very sensitive to it, and so preserve my pale colour and my delicate flavour. Usually a slender blonde, I'm 4-8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. 

I don’t get better as I get older, use me when I am fresh and crispy, enjoy my mild bitter sweet taste fresh in salads or stuffed, braised or gratinéed, I am excellent just with butter or in recipes with cured meats. When crossed with Radicchio, I'm red-tipped and milder, but will lose my flavour if cooked. 

My roots could be used as a substitute for coffee, in fact, they have been widely used during economic crises such as the Great Depression in the 1930s and during World War II in Continental Europe. 

I stimulate the appetite, cleanse the intestines, aid digestion, and contain folic acid, potassium, and vitamin C.


Let me introduce myself, I am a member of the rose family. My babies taste better than I do but they melt if you ship them. Romans valued me for my reputed therapeutic powers for everything from loose teeth to gastritis. I have grown wild for centuries and was not cultivated until the late 13th century. It was not until the 18th century, however, when my cultivation began to be pursued in earnest. Like many other perishable fruits at that time, I remained a luxury item only enjoyed by the wealthy until the mid-19th century. Once railways were built and more rapid means of transportation established, I was shipped to longer distances and was able to be enjoyed by more people. I am now one of the most popular commodity close behind bananas. Not too bad for something of my size!

  I said I was a fruit but from a botanical point of view I am a false fruit, some even classify me as a nuts! not sure about this. Technically, I am an aggregate accessory fruit, meaning that my fleshy part is derived not from my plant's ovaries but from my receptacle that holds my ovaries. Each of my apparent “seed" on the outside of the “fruit” is actually one of my ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it. Pretty complicated isn’t it.

  My cultivars vary widely in size, colour, flavour, shape, degree of fertility, season of ripening, liability to disease and constitution of my plant. For purposes of commercial production, my plants are propagated from runners.

  Life is difficult for everyone, around 200 species of pests are known to attack me both directly and indirectly. These pests include slugs, moths, fruit flies, mites, aphids and many others, the worst been caterpillars of a number of species of Lepidoptera feeding on my plants. I can fall victim to a number of diseases too. My leaves may be infected by powdery mildew, leaf spot, leaf blight, and by a variety of slime mold. My crown and roots may fall victim to red stele, verticillium wilt, Black root rot and nematode. My “fruits” are subject to damage from gray mood rhizomes rot, and leather rot. To prevent most of this, I should be planted every four to five years in a new bed, at a different site.

  On average, studies show 2 days as the maximal time for my storage without major loss of vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants. It's not that I become dangerous to eat or invaluable after 2 days. On the contrary, limited research indicates that my consumption may be associated with a decreased cardiovascular disease risk and that phytochemicals present in me have anti-inflammatory or anticancer properties in laboratory studies.

  You can find me canned, frozen, dried, a liqueur, a jelly, and an ice cream, just to name a few.

  Maybe I will meet you around a milkshake very soon!


Ok, Ok! I admit it. I am bitter, hey its in my family’s gene, especially in the long hot summer, but isn't everybody? Bitter yes, but that's no reason to tie me up with string or a rubber band, now is it? Sometimes I even get a bucket stuck on my head! Can you imagine?

   They say it’s to give me a milder flavour. There ought to be a law for this!! I am an annual, beautiful ground plant dating back at least to ancient Egypt and possibly used as bitter herbs at the Passover Seder. I have curly slender leaves that range in colour from yellow-white to yellow-green. I am large, loose, open headed, feathery light, and add beauty to any dish. I am primarily used in salads, but taste delicious in a sauté or by myself.

   I must say I am most popular in France, Belgium and Holland. The French, Ha! those French, they like me very much in salad with lardons (bacon bits) and poached egg.

   During the war my root was used to bring some flavour to coffee or even used as substitute.  I'm not real sure, but if compared side by side there might have been a hairstyle named after me.


  I have often been the symbol of hospitality. I was also often used as an air freshener and was placed in the rooms of houses, synagogues and temples to clear and freshen the air and rid the smell of unpleasant odours from rooms. Greek mythology says I was turned into this by Pluto's wife Persephone when she was angered by me. I have over 30 species and I can say proudly I am widely used in commercial medicine products, and very much appreciated by many cooks and Chefs for my aromatic and flavoursome qualities. 

   Although I may be consumed in small quantities, the vital nutrients obtained are still beneficial to one's health. I am often a major part of a traditional English afternoon. 

   Did I mention I am one of the five ingredients of one of the most famous rum-based highballs?


  We're native to India and may be 10,000 years old. The Romans loved us. Then Americans declared us only fit for cows in the late 1600's. But today, we join the Queen for tea between slices of buttered bread. Smooth or warty, we always have glossy skin and almost white flesh. Ranging from 3 inches to 2 feet in length, generally the English are the longest, while American's are shorter and fatter. The Chinese hang weights on us sometimes to make us grow longer and stronger. Big or small, long and firm, with seeds or not someone wrote a book listing why we are better than a man in 100 ways. We do hang out with real climbers, who may need some guidance, constraint or support, so we don't end up rolling on the floor or taking over the party. Peel us if we're waxed, scrub off any spines, and gut us if you burp. 

   Eat raw, steam or sauted. Leave in vinegar, but not the freezer. We're a must for Greek salads and gazpacho. Combined with yogurt, we counter Middle Eastern spices. Great with fish, dill, and tomato. A source of potassium, calcium, folate, and vitamin C, we're fat free, cholesterol free and sodium free. We're a diuretic, purifier, and relaxant. Use us as a cool astringent to soothe your skin. From fields and greenhouses, we come for you all year with a summer peak.


   I AM EVERYTHING AND MORE! People have the nerve to call me just a berry, but you'd never see me that way. I was known as the Chinese gooseberry; however I was renamed for export marketing reasons in the 1950s and only got my registered trademark in 1997, I was a cliche of 70's nouvelle cuisine and I am very proud of it. I originated in China over 700 years ago, but they only used me then as a childhood tonic. The French call me “vegetable mousse” and I must admit that I'm a rampant climber, deciduous and attractive. When cut, I release actinic and bromic acids to curdle your milk, soften your meat, and keep your gelatin nervous. Caress my skin if you want to eat it; on a picnic enjoy my fruit. See, I told you I'm everything and more. On the culinary side, it took an inventive marketing mom to really make me famous in the U. S. While of few of my plants are hermaphrodites, we usually work as a harem, one male for every four or five females producing 100 lbs. of fruit on one vine. 

   You'll find me year-round, since my two main producers have complementary seasons. I'm also a handler's delight, since I have a resilient skin and can last 3-4 weeks in your refrigerator or 6 months in cold, humid storage. Even after 6 months, I retain 90% of my Vitamin C. I need room temperature to really ripen. I get sweeter and mushier as I ripen, despite losing some vitamin content. Scoop, peel, slice, chunk, juice, or just bite in; use me like a strawberry or melon. Even with all my attributes, it just isn't enough; they're marketing my smooth-skin baby cousins and my new gold variety. I have ten times more Vitamin C than lemons and lots of potassium, and I'm diuretic and laxative. One oval berry can have as many as 1400 seeds, containing essential fatty acids.


   I am a sweet, nutlike tuber of the genus Trapa. I am three or four sided and most popular in the cuisines of China, Japan, and Thailand. My roots are anchored to the bottoms of lakes or ponds, my leaves are at the surface, and I am formed at the bottom or in the middle. I am an aquatic vegetable. Although indigenous to Southeast Asia, I also grow prolifically in southern Europe and the eastern United States, particularly in the Potomac River, where my thick growth often hinders navigation. 

   I have a crispy white flesh and can be eaten raw, slightly boiled, grilled, pickled, or tinned. I am rich in carbohydrates (about 90 percent by dry weight), especially starch (about 60 percent by dry weight), and I am also a good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, potassium, copper, and manganese, I am most frequently used in stir-fry. I am also available canned, (whole or sliced), or as a powder for flour. Because my seeds were often used in making rosaries, I am sometimes called a “Jesuit's nut”.


   I'm nuts. I'm native American. I was a staple food of native Americans dating back to 1528. In 1919, the 36th Texas Legislature made my tree the state tree of Texas. My commercial growing production in the United States did not begin until the 1880s. Today, the U.S. produces between 80% and 95% of the world's production, with an annual crop of 150 to 200 thousand tons. My name come from an Algonquian word meaning tough nut to crack. My trees prefer temperate climates and are widely grown in Georgia, Oklahoma and Texas, and as far north as Virginia. My hard thin shell averages about one inch in  length. 

   I am golden brown on the outside and beige in the middle. Clinical research published in the Journal of Nutrition (September 2001) found that eating about a handful each day may help lower cholesterol levels similar to what is often seen with cholesterol-lowering medications. Research conducted at the University of Georgia has also confirmed I contain plant sterols, which are known for their cholesterol-lowering ability. I am a good source of protein and fiber. I also contain some iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. I am used for eating out of hand, in sweet and savory dishes, but probably most famous for stuffing, cookies, and pies.


   Utilized as a food by the North American Indians for thousands of years, I probably originated in the southwestern part of North America. My cultivation dates back to 900 BC. Europeans learned of me in the 16th century and I was developed as a commercial oilseed by the 19th century. Today my most popular growing regions are Argentina, China, France, Russia, Spain and the United States.

   Summer is definitely my season, and my name is sort of derived from it. My thick hairy stem can be anywhere from 3 to 20 feet tall and my famous flower, a flat round brown edged disk edged with yellow petals, can grow to be 20 inches in diameter. Every part of my plant is useful. My seeds are edible raw, roasted, chopped, ground or eaten as sprouts. The oil from my seeds is very popular, as it is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. This oil is used in salad and cooking oils, margarine and shortenings, and has even proven useful as a diesel fuel additive.

   My flowers are a source of a substance used to treat malaria, while my petals are used for making dye. Bee  colonies are often placed in my fields for pollination and the production of honey. As a pharmafood, I am an excellent source of potassium, which promotes the reduction of sodium by means of urination. I am also considered an expectorant, relieving the symptoms of coughs, colds, and asthma. I have even been known to help poor vision.

If planted accordingly, I make a great summer fence.

 A model for the pattern of my floret head was proposed by H. Vogel in 1979.

This is expressed in polar coordinates

r = c √n,

θ = n X137.5º,

   Where θ is the angle, r is the radius or distance from the center, and n is the index number of the floret and c is a constant scaling factor. It is a form of Fermat's spiral. The angle 137.5° is related to the golden ratio and gives a close packing of florets. This model has been used to produce computer graphics representations. I am a typical example of nature helping developing technology.


   Shakespeare wrote that I am for remembrance. Don Quixote mixes me in his recipe of the miraculous balm of Fierabras with revolting results. I have also been the symbol of love and death since ancient Greece and Rome, where my use in marriage and funeral rites signified an enduring affection. I have been asked to smile a little smile in a song, placed in hair to help with the memory during examinations, and put under pillows to prevent nightmares.

I am considered easy to grow for beginner gardeners, and am pest-resistant. I might be part of your turkey or the basting brush. I also flavour wine, butter, marinades, oils, vinegar, tea, and jelly. Legend states that my light blue flowers received their colour when Mary, fleeing to Egypt, placed her blue cloak over my bush. My fresh and dried leaves are used frequently in traditional Mediterranean cuisine; they have a bitter, astringent taste, which complements a wide variety of foods. When burned they give off a distinct mustard smell, as well as a smell similar to that of burning which can be used to flavour foods while barbecuing. I am extremely high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6.


    I am one of the oldest known vegetables, as I was eaten by the Chinese several thousand years ago. Eaten with vinegar before a meal I can temper the worst of stomach aches and / or hangovers. I am red, pink, green, blue, purple, or white and sometimes variegated. I can be in head or leaf form. I contain a good amount of vitamin C and some vitamin A. I was used as K-rations when Ceasar invaded Britain. Once a year I am used in great quantity. I am grown all over the planet and can survive all types of climates.


   I am a plant of the genus Musa, and though you would never know it, I am a perennial herb and grow a new tree trunk every year.  I die back to my roots after I have flowered and fruited. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Statistics estimations, I am the highest daily consumption fruit in the world.  Known for both cooking and eating types, my variation abound  in tropical regions where I am grown, but we're limited in temperate climates.  My earliest written record of cultivation is from India, dated back to the 6th century BC. The Greeks began to enjoy my wonderful flavour when the army of Alexander the Great noticed me in India in the 4th century BC. Already well established, I debuted in China around 200 AD and was instantly acclaimed as exotic and rare. I had arrived!! 

   From here it was nothing but up. Disraeli, in1831, called me the most delicious thing in the world. In 1899 two American importers formed the United Fruit Company, making me available and inexpensive around the globe.  Some republics are even named after me. What can I say, it makes us proud. Primarily eaten out of hand, I am also used in interesting desserts, breads, candies, and sauces. In the produce world I am used to ripen tomatoes, and avocados due to the large amount of ethylene gas I produce.


   My first recorded use is in China in about 2700 B.C. Originally I was used medicinally as a powerful laxative, and a known cure for venereal diseases. It was not until the eighteenth century that my stalks became popular for eating. My leaves contain oxalic acid and are toxic. I'm field grown from late winter to early summer, and hothouse grown all year, but my field flavor is stronger. Although I am often used as a fruit, I am a member of the buckwheat family, an almost indestructible perennial, whose stalks grow up to two feet long. Often combined with strawberries or ginger, I am awesome as a fruit soup, pie, sauce for meats, jam, sorbet, or ice cream. I can even be fried or poached.


   I was enjoyed in the dark ages, often mentioned in the Bible, cultivated by the Egyptians who turned me on to the Romans, who introduced me to the Celts, and I ended up as the national vegetable of Wales. Not bad for an allium, but it wasn’t always that easy. We still hold the memories of the dark times, the 16th to 18th centuries, where the aristocracy turned up their nose at me and I had to rely on the common folk for acceptance, but let’s not go there. I have finally shed the title of poor man’s asparagus, and rightfully so. I can go almost anywhere, can be used in just about anything, or make a hearty dish on my own. Known as the king of soup onions I have been seen in the finest soups, sauces, and broth. 

   My family is large, but we all act about the same, except for the enormous elders. They're nasty, but I guess that can't be helped when your insides stiffen up like a tree. I range from 9 to 11 inches in height and am best when about 1 inch in diameter. My behavior is not wild or rampant so my delicate sweet mild flavor imparts best from my white base, which remains underground until harvest. Sublime in potato pies or casseroles, I also excite when braised in cream or simmered in butter. Soups and towns are named after me, but after that 150-year snuffing, I just want to be everywhere. From babies for garnish to woodies for display, you’ll enjoy using me in your daily preparations as well as dinner for the Duke and Duchess. I provide an excellent source of folic acid and a good source of iron, potassium, vitamins C, B6, and calcium. 

   Would it be bragging to say I make Mother Nature proud?


   I am the number one cash crop in the United States. Originating in East Asia (Manchuria), I arrived on the U.S. shores with the Mathew Perry expedition.

I have more protein and calories than any other legume. I grow on a small bush two to six feet high. I am raised in a velvety pod that can be gray, yellow, black, white or brown. I have an amazing amount of uses. In my infant stage I am used in salads as a sprout.

   I am fermented, used as coffee substitute, made into cheese, jam, flour, grits, or used for imitation beef, ham, or chicken. Industrially my oil is used for soap, paint or vanishes. I am also a very popular cooking oil. When brewed I make a wonderful sauce, but often my sauce is packaged without any of me in it. It's truly a shame that water, salt, vegetable protein, corn syrup, and caramel color, cheaply replace my rich tangy flavour. I must be cooked to neutralize the anti-nutrients I contain (phytic acid, and trypsin). If defatted or dried, I will store moderately well. If fresh, I must be refrigerated or I will turn rancid in short order. When they dry us we are used in stews and casseroles but our pleasant hazelnut like flavour is best when fresh.

   Today, one of my varieties has been blanched and become very popular in the market place, but don't use me as an answer, only my primary name gets you on my list. I am low in carbohydrates and an extremely economical source of protein. We also provide good sources of iron, B1 and B2 along with linoleic acid, an Omega-3 fatty acid.


   I am a member of the rose family and was probably first cultivated by the Chinese prior to 2000 BC. I was spread westward by silk dealers. I now grow well all over the warmer temperate parts of the world. Although most popular dried, or in jams and jellies, I have a sweet brightness of golden velvet; when eaten fresh. I am a jam, jelly, glaze, dipped in chocolate, salted, smoked, stuffed and sheeted.

   My kernels contain small amounts of prussic acid, which is destroyed when I am roasted. My kernels are also responsible for the flavour and texture of amaretti do Saronno.


   I was very abundant on Mount Olympus, the home of the gods. I have numerous varieties and my trees are common throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States, though Europe produces my largest size.

   I am sweet and starchy but my skin needs to be peeled, boiled, or roasted off. I can be roasted, mashed, boiled, steamed, grilled, pureed, or soaked in concentrated sugar syrup until I am translucent, or used as baking flour.

   I am usually raised with two siblings in a catkin. I combine marvelously with chocolate to make rich puddings. In some parts of Italy I am known as "mountain bread"


   I am delicate, petite, pretty, and succulent; a garnish for champagne! I grow in many places, but thrive in the coolest regions of the Northern Hemisphere. My European varieties derive from the species Rubus Idaeus while my American varieties mostly come from Rubus Strigosa.

   I was barely seen until the 18th century when I became popular on the dessert table. I am frigid and require cool temperatures. In any real amount of heat I will rebel, perish, leak and stain in revolt.

   Today you will find me in fruit salad, served with peaches and cream, or pureed and used in jellies, coulis, sorbet, and puddings. I can also be used as a sauce for wild game. My family covers a rainbow of colors, ranging from white to yellow, orange, pink, red, purple and black.

   My Scottish cousins are always the Envy of the family. Whenever we have a reunion (which gets rarer and rarer these days), they constantly brag about their cool damp climate and strut around the table like they are the best in the world. Actually, they are, and believe you me they know it! Each year, as the demand increases, they seem to be growing us larger and firmer, larger and firmer, so maybe we'll catch up to the quality of our not so distant cousins! I am certainly welcome on a dessert tray, but my association with discolored skin makes me unpopular in a bikeathon or 10K event.

   I am high in fiber, a good source of vitamin C, and contain traces of vitamin A and calcium.


   My best quality is usually judged by my fingers, but often they are too heavy so my hand gets broken. My name comes from the Sanskrit word for a horny root due to my knobby appearance. My flavour is peppery and slightly sweet, while my aroma is pungent and spicy. I can be grated, dried, ground, slivered, pickled, or ailed. I am in cookies, bread, beer, and tea. I am an essential ingredient in Chinese, Indian, and Arab dishes. I am excellent for use in marinades and stir-fry. (I was also a movie star lost at sea.) For dessert I have been candied and ice creamed.


   They should calculate my weight in diamonds! I am originally from the Middle East and Central Asia. I have been cultivated there for thousands of years. I am a member in good standing of the Umbelliferae family (you may have heard of my cousin hemlock, I know Socrates has). I am a biennial plant and have hundreds of varieties ranging in height, thickness and colour. In fact my various colours almost cover the entire rainbow including, white, orange, red, purple, and if left out too long, black.

   I am produced globally but my largest crops come from the United States, China, England, France, Japan, and Poland. My uses are truly universal. Need to soothe a burn? Use me raw as a compress for immediate relief. Menstrual cramping got you bloated? Don't run to the medicine cabinet, head for the refrigerator and munch on me. Wanna make your wine more interesting? Use me in the fermentation process and cheer the results. On the culinary side, I have one danger. Excessive consumption will make your skin colour, my primary skin colour. This is a great alternative to the tanning salon.

   You will enjoy me in crudites, soups, salads, sandwiches, cookies, cakes, or classically glazed with brown sugar and butter. I am a dieter's delight with my way low calories, and don't even talk to me about fat, I have none! I am 87% water yet rich in vitamin A and Potassium. My slender shape also contains Vitamin C, Thiamin, Folic Acid, and Magnesium. My oil is rich in Vitamin E.

   These days you could very well find me skinned and topless, but don't worry, that gets me to the plate more quickly. Children thrive on my babies, horses love the old folks. Why, with this many colours shapes and uses, everyone will find a variety that suits them. You shouldn't have to jump in a hole to enjoy me any more.


   I am famous for playing hard to get, but I’m coming soon. The few that are graced with my presence find me on small tropical trees in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, as well as Hawaii. I am the reining queen in the Guttiferaceae family and you must refer to me as the Queen of the Tropical Fruits.

   I grow at my own leisurely pace, and although it’s usually in timely fashion, I won’t be hurried. I am difficult to propagate and will easily get persnickety. My thick, vibrant skin is simply stunning. While I might share the same purplish red skin color as a pomegranate, please, give me a break, I am significantly more beautiful both inside and out. My insides are segmented into adorable pulpy white/ivory sections. My pulp is sensually delicate, yet powerfully sweet and juicy. My amazing exotic flavour has been described as a mixture of pineapples, apricots, oranges, and grapes. One taste will bring you to your knees as I melt in your mouth. If you must, I can be pureed as a topping, used for ice creams or sorbet, or tossed in a fruit salad, but if it’s my essence you’re after (and who isn’t?) all you need do is spoon me right out of my skin.

   I think the Indonesians have it best because that is where I am most abundant. Can you believe they actually use me in recipes for pickles and vinegar? Such a waste! If you’re like me and blessed with a fabulous sense of fashion, I’m probably on your shoes, wallet, or gloves as the tannins from my skin are used as a dye.

   I contain potassium and vitamin C and just for fun, I threw in some iron and niacin. I have no religious affiliations, sound like a fruit I am not, and if found on mainland USA I would most likely be radiant.


   Lettuce leaf or herb, you decide. It's important to know that I'm not even hurt, but there is so much in a name. I am considered ancient, but this does not make me bitter, however I've been known to be sour.

   I am available from early Spring to late Autumn. My leaves are large and green with a broad base. I am known for my high acid content. My main varieties are Wild, Round-leafed, Garden and French. Cooks prefer my French variety, Rumex scutatus, because it is less acidic. Ancient Greeks and Romans used me for my acidity as an aid in digestion. I am often found hanging in the herb garden with my buddy lovage but even solo I add tartness to a variety of dishes including green salads sandwiches, cream-based sauces, omelets, soups, quiches, soft cheese, veal, pork, and fish. You could quite possibly find me on a Seder plate as well.

   My leaves are very rich in potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Although I have a potent bite, I can also be used as a tenderizer, especially to meat before stewing and braising.

   Don't be fooled by my English name, I will not make you high, but I may make you pucker.


   No strings on my head, but I do have a frond. When my coiled frond pokes through the soil it is a solid indication of SPRING! A foragers dream, they have not figured out (or bothered to) how to cultivate me. Introduced to French settlers by Malacite Indians in 1783, the French developed our culinary capabilities. I am only available to harvest for about two weeks before I unfurl into graceful greenery of inedible plumes.

   The eastern United States is my prime terrain, but I have a darker, grayer variety harvested in the Pacific Northwest that you will see a month before me. My taste is a cross between asparagus, green beans, and artichokes, with a very appealing chewy texture. I am an excellent source of vitamin A and a reasonably good source of vitamin C and fiber. I can be steamed, simmered, braised, sauteed, or boiled. I am excellent as a side dish with hollandaise, maltaise or butter sauces. I can also be drizzled with any vinaigrette, or added to salads, raw. If you want me, you had better move quickly, as I am gone in the blink of an eye.


   You can call me nuts, but I am a legume, a good standing member of the pea family. I may not be up there with, Chevrolet, and apple pie, but a baseball game wouldn’t be the same without me. While South America and China both claim my origin, I’ll go with the Peruvians who in the 15th century were so awed by my existence, they buried pots of us along with their mummified dead. The long journey into the hereafter requires nourishment, you know, and we were there to provide. By the centurie’s end Columbus travels had made me a sensation in Portugal and other countries of the Old World. The Portuguese continued my expansion throughout Africa, the Philippines and East Asia. From Africa, I found my way across the ocean again to North America. Today India is my prime producer, with China and America not far behind.

   I actually form underground, but it is a long strange trip. I grow in subtropical and temperate regions. My plant is bush like (we’re not fond of broccoli either) and I can grow up to 30 inches high. I grow small yellow flowers for a two to three month period that open in the morning at sunrise for fertilization and drop dead by noon. In the days that follow the stems of my flowers grow longer and bend down, toward the ground. These stems then penetrate the ground with a 1 to 3 inch depth. Here the stems expand, ripen, and grow into seed bearing pods. When harvested my pods are dried and become brittle where my thin netted tan colored pod opens to reveal my brownish-red skin that can be eaten plain or brined and roasted. Famous for my oil that can withstand high heat without breaking down I am also well known for my butter.

   I expand when cooked, and will continue to cook when removed from heat. I am crushed, ground, blended, and served with, meat, fish, poultry, sauces, salads, soups, and desserts. I am 85% unsaturated fat, rich in protein and calories. I am an excellent source of thiamine, niacin, magnesium and potassium. All these wonderful attributes and I am probably best remembered as a comic strip. Good Grief!!


   I help create the anticipation in ketchup. I also help thicken soups and stews, but more about that later. I am the proud edible seed pod in the Hibiscus family. Related to cotton some people would prefer to eat that, but they just don’t know.

   I began in the Asiatic tropics, and while you did not find me in any Egyptian tombs, they documented me growing by the River Nile in the early 13th century. My first serious cultivation was in Western Africa (Ethiopia), where bloody raids ensued from tribal crop envy. From there, I migrated to the West Indies, Middle East, and India. The Moorish invasions of Europe brought me into Spain, and the African Slaves made me a standard in the Southern United States. From the USA I went to South America and thanks to India by the 19th century I was Chinese as well. Known as the poor mans food, and only able to grow in tropical and warm temperate climates, I still maintained worldwide recognition. Here’s why. I’M GOOD!

   I have a thin, smooth or downy covered edible skin that is mostly green and occasionally tinged with yellow. Recently I have been seen wearing a deep dark red, but it’s just an overcoat. If you heat me my red coat comes off (usually) and we turn back to green. My ridged fruits (I really am a fruit, but you wouldn’t dare use me that way) are finger size and angular. We form after our red centered yellow flower opens atop my eight-foot perennial stalk.

   When opened or cooked we exude a milky liquid that acts as a thickener and scares many of you away. Don’t be scared, if you don’t like my juice, get me while I’m young . The older I be, the more gum you will see, which fills Americans with glee! We are also less fibrous and more digestible in our youth.

   Fresh or dried I am a thickener. I am 100% useful. My leaves and shoots are devoured throughout Africa. My seeds are ground the world around and used as a substitute for coffee. Our pods are eaten fresh, used in curries, and relished in Greece and Egypt. In America, I am stewed, fried and used as a natural thickener and a major ingredient in some very important soups. Sub me out for any dish calling for asparagus or eggplant for a tasty variation. I also combine well with onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Scramble me with your morning eggs for a flavour that will keep you going all day.

   You will benefit from my potassium, magnesium, and folic acid. I am easy to digest, mildly laxative, and with my emollient agents I’m no sin for your skin.


   Pliny said I could prevent fatigue, but he didn’t know my prices and shelf life! Pilgrims in the Middle Ages put me in their shoes before long journeys on foot.

   Named after the French word for “little dragon”and related to wormwood, I can be strangled by my roots if not regularly divided. Due to my serpentine root system I am a good treatment for snakebite. I am also considered to enhance the growth of most vegetables when planted among them.

   I will sweeten your breath and numb your tongue if chewed. I prefer France in the Spring and Russia in the Winter. Often associated with vinegar or fish, I am also good with mustard, chicken, fresh salads, lamb, potatoes, artichokes, cheeses, eggs and sour cream. As a pharma-food I am known to stimulate appetite, relieve flatulence, and help ease toothaches. I am able to protect foods as an antioxidant.

   As a useful antifungal I am also an ingredient in perfumes, soaps and cosmetics.


   I am the first seasoning whose use was ever recorded. I date back as far as 3000- BC Assyria. There is some confusion about my actual origin. While some believe Africa, others insist on India. Frankly, I don’t care, I’m just proud to be number one. I have been used in China for over 2000 years but I never made to the inside, I’m still considered a foreigner there.

   My arrival in the States is attributed to the African Slaves and this is why I was initially very popular in southern cooking.

   I am an annual who grows tall and straight with deeply veined egg-shaped leaves and lovely pink and white flowers. I get plucked when I’m green (doesn’t everyone?) to avoid bursting. I am popular all over the world where I am regularly used in sweet and savory food. My latest fad is to be blackened, but you’ll find me in white and brown as well.

   Toast me for more intense flavour. I impart a slightly sweet, nutty flavor essential in specific types of bagels, breads, pastes, halvah, noodles, meats, fish, and of course, oil. In fact, I am 50% oil, so be careful, if you keep me too warm I’ll go rancid. Best to keep me in an airtight container, and keep my bedroom cool and dark. In this condition I’ll give you a good 3 months, in the icebox I’ll give you 6 months, and frozen I can go for a year. My fat is largely unsaturated and when dried I provide magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc copper as well as dietary fiber and riboflavin.

   I help your nervous system, bowels, and make a fine massage oil. Although my name is often use to open doors, I’ve never seen it work.


   Grown in hot regions all over the world, I am the most popular of all tropical fruits. Carib Indians hung me whole or a crown of my leaves above the entrance to their huts as a sign of welcome and a promise of food and drink. I am native to the lowlands of Brazil, and spread throughout the world easily propagated by cuttings. I have dwarf siblings whose core is completely edible, and I have monster parents who weigh over eleven pounds.

   If you want me sweet you better pick me ripe because I have no reserve of starch to turn to sugar. I can be used fresh, sauteed, broiled, grilled, frozen, canned, or juiced. I am famous as a cake and in fruit salads. I have been used as a sore throat remedy and a meat tenderizer and I am object of art, in furniture, floors, jewelry, and paintings.


   I originated in the Middle East, grown in Spain during the 8th century, and it was the Spaniards who brought me to North America. Although I am a rich source of iron as well as vitamins A and C, I also contain oxalic acid which inhibits the body's absorption of calcium and iron, so my nutritional value is somewhat diminished.

   I have a slightly bitter taste, which is prized by some and disliked by others. I am flat or curly, big or small, and always green. I come fresh, canned, or frozen. I can be used in salads, as a side dish, steamed, boiled, or even rolled up like a grape leaf. You will need me to be strong for Olive Oyl!

© BCCASA 2014