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Flower bulbs – delicacy in ancient times

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Cebula morska
Flower bulbs

In ancient times, flower bulbs were widely used as medicine and an aphrodisiac. Interestingly, ancient people also often ate them; however, it was a delicacy of the upper classes.

The most popular was sea onion, which was treated as an aphrodisiac and medicine. It was added to wine or vinegar for medicinal purposes, as mentioned by Pliny the Elder. Ovid and Varro, in turn, claim that chewing flower bulbs improve potency.

In ancient times, bulbs of grape hyacinth, tassel hyacinth or even poison lily were also popular.

The Roman physician Galen recommended the use of flower bulbs along with lentil soup, which supposedly gives a pleasant warming effect during frosty weather. Many recipes for the use of flower bulbs have also been preserved in the famous culinary book of Apicius – “De re coquinaria”. One of the recipes advises boiling the flower bulbs, then crushing them in a pan, and add thyme, oregano, honey, vinegar, defrutum, dates, garum and a little olive oil. Then sprinkle with pepper and serve.


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