New name, new address, thanks to an 18th Century botanist

Slightly new content, although I have brought all my old posts over from my old blog for now.  The name Esculent et cetera came to me on reading Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book which I recently bought. In a description of asparagus peas she quotes Philip Miller (who was recently featured in BBC 4’s Botany: A Blooming History) in his Gardener’s and Botanist’s Dictionary:

“It was formerly cultivated as an esculent plant, for the green pods, which are said to be still eaten in some of our northern counties, but they are very coarse”

I’d heard the word esculent before but had to look it up to get the exact meaning, and it seemed a perfect choice for a new direction on my blog, which I’m going to use to record cooking exploits and possibly other related topics that interest me, as well as growing mainly edible plants. So I’ll aim to produce posts on topics esculent, but unlike the asparagus pea I will try to avoid being coarse at any time…

(NB we did grow asparagus peas once. And I’m with Mr Miller on this one, although we will probably give them another chance one day).


2 thoughts on “New name, new address, thanks to an 18th Century botanist

  1. Rhizowen says:

    I would like to defend the honour of the asparagus pea. The pods can be very coarse, but that’s true of any legume picked at the wrong time. Pick them before they get fibrous and they’re really very tasty; the secret of good asparagus peas, like good comedy, is timing. Someone really ought to breed a better variety with pods that stay stringless for longer. I might even try myself.

  2. Bugs says:

    Thanks for your comment Rhizowen – I’m fully prepared (and indeed would like) to be proven wrong. I don’t think I gave the asparagus pea much of a chance – it was in my first year (maybe two) of real vegetable growing, on an as-yet-utterly-unimproved chalky soil (if you can call 4 inches of flint and mud over chalk “soil”), and if I remember properly they were tucked in to the edge of the flower borders and as a result very probably not harvested correctly too. I’d love to try some breeding myself in the future (one of the reasons why I enjoy your blog) and this could be an interesting victim to inflict my experiments on – I suspect you might beat me to it though!

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