Botanical name: Allium porrum
Leek, a biennial herbaceous plant, represents a real source of well-being for our body.
Origins and history
Known since ancient times, both by the Romans and by the Egyptians and by the Greeks, it is a resource of the Mediterranean area, its place of origin. The sources would attest it, with greater precision, in the area of the Near East. Some scholars have hypothesized a Celtic origin, but without certainty.
Safe, however, its use in 2000 BC. among the Egyptians. It was thanks to them, and to their trade, that the vegetable began to be used in the Greco-Roman area, so as to reach us. It belongs to the large family of Liliaceae, which includes garlic and onion, among others. Allium porrum, the scientific name that identifies it, has different varieties, which differ in length, robustness, intensity of taste and cultivation.
The most widespread varieties, attested in Italy are five: the Grosso breve in summer, the Grossissimo di Rouen, the Lungo giant in winter in Italy, the Monstrous di Carentan and the very famous Cervere. Its cultivation has developed above all in the regions of central Italy and in Piedmont, especially in Chivasso.
Nutritional and beneficial properties of leeks
It is certainly a vegetable rich in properties, starting with its high nutritional value. Being low in calories, it is suitable for low-calorie diets, providing a significant supply of vitamins and water. Although in small quantities, is a source of Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Silicon, Sodium and sulfo-nitrogen essence.
Its medicinal propertieshave been known since ancient times for its effectiveness against abscesses and bee and mosquito stings. As well as its diuretic properties, to treat arthritis, kidney diseases, constipation and prevent arteriosclerosis. In short, a plant with countless characteristics, to which are added an aromatic taste and many organoleptic properties. Even its cooking water, rich in alkaline salts, would be equivalent to thermal treatments.
Use of leek in the kitchen
Precisely because of the aforementioned peculiarities, the vegetable is used in the cuisine of numerous cultures, in particular Italy and Greece present numerous recipes, in which it appears as a protagonist. Used in all its variants, it is well suited to the growing demands of vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
In the latter case, to the delicious leek cream, made with vegetable broth, flour, extra virgin olive oil and croutons, just replace the Parmigiano Reggiano with flakes of yeast, and that's it.Great enjoyed boiled, with a drizzle of oil, it can also be used for sautéed in place of onion or garlic. The flavor, decidedly sweeter, is ideal for the most delicate palates. To better understand its wide use you have to indulge yourself with soups, queens of winter, where mixed with spelled and barley, it will enrich your dishes with taste.
There are many quotes from writers and illustrious personalities, who provide us with thoughts and ideas about leek, in past societies. The great Roman historian Pliny mentions the vegetable, boasting its numerous benefits. It also informs us of the passion of the emperor Nero, through anecdotes and stories. According to the ancient Romans, the plant had aphrodisiac effects. Being a people accustomed to earthly pleasures, it is easy to deduce its wide use.
Even in the Middle Ages its fame did not stop, but expanded. The first major medical school, which in those years saw its development in the city of Salerno, reaffirmed all the herbal properties, recommending its use for medical problems. A rather curious piece of information, in the sixteenth century, would attest to a vision by Giordano Bruno, who idealized a phallic symbol in the leek, even believing it capable of transforming itself into the seed of man.
We could cite many other cases, but to conclude this excursus we will conclude with a quotation from beyond the Alps, attributed to the doctor Jacques du Four de la Crespèliere, supporter, in several of his writings, of the qualities of the plant. "Depth the topic it will be difficult to look at Allium porrum with the same eyes as before, without considering the greatness, which is contained in so much simplicity".