Like other herbs, leeks have a long history and were used by man for more than 3000 years.
Although widely popular in Europe, leeks are believed to have originated in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. It has been known to already exist in Ancient Egypt as this humble herb has been depicted in tombs during that period.
This overlooked herb has also been mentioned in the Bible (Numbers 11:5) which will tell you how old leeks are.
In ancient Rome, leeks were considered a superior vegetable so it was treated with respect. In fact, Emperor Nero was reported to eat quite a lot of leeks because he believed it would make his singing voice better. Because of this, he was nicknamed as the leek-eater (Porophagus).
Even Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, credited the sweet, strong voice of the partridge to a diet that’s essentially composed of leeks.
It was the Romans who introduced this herb to the United Kingdom, particularly in Wales, where it became so popular that it became its national emblem.
Leeks have been used by the Welsh in their battle against the Saxons in 1620 which they have ultimately won. They put leeks on their caps to help their soldiers distinguish their own from that of their opponents.
Today, leeks have lost its glorious reputation because there are other herbs that are more convenient to use such as onions. However, leeks remain a significant vegetable in many European countries.
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