Saturday, 10 October 2009

Fennel (for John)

I meant to to this a while ago but between one thing and another.....

Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel)

I love to use the herb in the flower border. The acid green feathery foliage is great for setting off dark purple and orange flowers and it adds height with out being to overpowering or obstructing any views. It looks gorgeous with verbena boneriensis and echnineaca. I love the bronze fennel but I'd plant it with yellow and green flowers like bells of Ireland, or nicotiana lime green. In fact as foliage plants go I think fennel is the best for sticking in a herbaceous border because it is so light and airy.

It goes really well with fish especially if you stuff it inside the cavity and barbecue it or if you use some dried stems in a cooking fire it adds a a lovely smoky aniseed flavour. The seeds go really nicely with pork.

Medicinally fennel is used to help indigestion and stomach cramps. Its also supposed to be an aid to weight loss. Cotton wool soaked in fennel tea and placed on your eyes is good to reduce puffiness and watering eyes, and a mix of fennel tea and honey is supposed to be a good face pack for getting rid of wrinkles?

According to some of my old herbal books....
Prometheus used a hollow fennel branch to steal fire from the gods on Olympus. Dionysus carried a fennel wand as a symbol of fertility (because of its crazy self seeding habit). Its reported to have grown around the fields of marathon in ancient Greece and was eaten before the Olympic games to give strength to the athletes. It was also given to gladiators before entering the arena to give them a hunger for blood lust, and a crown of fennel was placed on the victor.
Charlemagne ate it on his campaigns to curb his hunger. Edward I's retinue once consumed eight pounds of it during lent. Fast days must have been noisy -one medieval poet recommends fennel seed because in it "This virtue shall you finde, foorth of your lower parts to drive the winde."

one final things you may or may not know about Fennel is its one of the main herbs used in Absinthe. I actually have in my hands right now an old herbal book with a recipe for Absinthe. Hmmm maybe I'll work on home made wine first before I attempt to brew a potion that will most likely kill me or at the very least make me blind or insane.


John Gray said...

thank you so much......great infox

Jess said...

Your most welcome



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