Latin (Allium Poorum)
Tips and Trivia
Leeks have been cultivated since at least 3000 BC, and they are native to the broad region stretching from Israel to India. Relished throughout Europe. They have been cultivated for so long that their beginnings are uncertain. Phoenician traders introduced the leek to Wales when they engaged in the tin trade in the British Isles a casual act that would unexpectedly elevate this humble plant to national status. Legend has it that in 640 AD, the Briton King Cadwallader was sorely pressed by invading Saxons. To distinguish themselves from the enemy, the Welsh wore leeks in their hats and subsequently gained a great victory over their enemies. Since that time, the Welsh have proudly eaten and worn the distinctive vegetable as a matter of national pride. Witness the tender scene in Shakespeare's Henry V when Fluellen turns to the victorious young King Hal:
"Your majesty says very true: if your majesties is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which, your majesty know, to this hour is an honourable badge of the service; and I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day." (Act IV, Scene 7)
Nero was said to eat leeks every day in the belief that they would maintain the clarity of his voice. The French have long described leeks as "the asparagus of the poor," and it is fitting that one of her proudest chefs Louis Diat would create an internationally famous leek soup based on the "poor people" soup of his predecessor Parmentier (see All about Potatoes). Vichyssoise, to the surprise of nearly everyone, was created on American shores at the turn of the century in New York City's Ritz Carlton Hotel. Chef Diat recalls in Cooking a la Ritz a hot soup of leeks and potatoes that his mother used to make:
"But in summer, when the soup seemed to be too hot, we asked for milk with which to cool it. Many years later, it was this memory which gave me the inspiration to make the soup which I have named Creme Vichyssoise."
Selection InformationUsage: Use in soups, salads and stir-fry.
Selection: Good-quality leeks will have bright white bulb-ends with dark green leaves. They will be straight, thick-leafed and very crisp.
Avoid: Avoid product with yellow, brown, wilted or slime-spotted tops. Bulbs ends that are very large are overmature.
Available year-round peaking in September and November
and again in the Spring.
Calorie Content 22kcals/100g
Leeks come in various types of packaging.
Wooden crates, carton boxes,or
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