Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"They Actually Eat That:" Arugula.

"Arugula?" Well, the name certainly sounds exotic enough. It's also called "rocket," which can cause some befuddlement on English-language menus. These look an awful lot like dandelions to Americans, but they definitely are not. Dandelions are an all-American plant and are totally different. :)

Arugula (eruca, rocket, or roqette elsewhere; Eruca sativa) is a plant native to the Mediterranean, ranging from Morocco to Turkey. It has been used in Mediterranean salads for ages. The taste of arugula spread as far as India in the East and has also been very popular in Brazil. Only recently, however, has it become common enough in the U.S. to make it onto grocery store shelves.

Arugula is particularly popular in Italy. The Romans have been using it as a garnish, salad, and aphrodisiac since the days of the empire. Down in the Gulf of Naples, they even make digestive liquor out of arugula. Oh, and since Italian pizzas are totally in right now, you'll be seeing a lot more of it. (Before you say that's redundant: Italy has several unique pizzas that the U.S. is in the process of butchering.)

Arugula has a strong flavor for a leafy veggie. Spinach has a flavor, too, but arugula's stronger.  It has been described as "peppery," or "like cress," which I suppose suffices for those who have never tried it, but in the end, arugula is arugula. Trust me, if your salad has arugula and you've tasted it once before, you'll know it's in there. It's distinct from every other green out there.

Arugula is rich in potassium and Vitamin D. It also has a lot if dietary fiber and protein, so if you've been trying to stay away from meat, look into it. Just bear in mind that this particular green veggie does have a flavor all its own. Try it on a freshly-baked pizza; you might like it. :)

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I didn't know you didn't have that in America!
    And, btw, you can eat young dandelion leaves too :)