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Manual Project "Mediterranean: crossroads of tastes and traditions" 2018-1-IT02-KA229-048179

TARANTO - ATHENS - SAMSUN - MALAGA
"Behold the sun, that shines upon thy forehead; Behold the grass, the flowerets, and the shrubs Which of itself alone this land produces." ("Vedi lo sol che ’n fronte ti riluce; vedi l’erbette, i fiori e li arbuscelli che qui la terra sol da sé produce.") Dante, La Divina Commedia, Purgatorio, Canto XXVII
MEDITERRANEAN: CROSSROAD OF TASTES AND TRADITIONS

INDEX

Introduction

1. History herbs and spices

2. Types and definition of the most used herbs & plants in the Mediterranean, tastes and traditions

3. The role and symbolism of natural products in "marriage" and the "symposium" in ancient Greece

4. Mediterranean plant: tradition and art in the cult of the dead

5. Vegetables in Byzantium

6. Saying goodbye to our deceased: When food celebrates life

7. Plants in art :

  • Herbs and plants in the Prehistoric Aegean
  • Plants In Famous Paintings

8. From harvest to transformation

9. Direct observations in the field during our mobilities

Introduction

This “Project Manual” is the final product of the Erasmus Plus Project "Mediterraneo crocevia di sapori e saperi”

It is the result of the collaboration between students from the 4 partner countries, who have all contributed through various methods – presentations, videos, direct observations in the field, laboratories and network research – assisted by the project coordinators and by their teachers who are tutors of languages, history, art history and science. It does not want to be in any way a scientific manual, but an operational tool to feed the active citizenship of society’s future generations, aimed at improving knowledge and protecting the "biodiversity" of the Mediterranean basin, whose peoples possess a common interest in plants, herbs, spices in their most varied uses: in the kitchen, of course, but also in pharmacopoeia and – why not also – in art. Spurred on by this purpose, the experience unfolds along a path that tries, with authentic passion, to explore the history of the peoples of the Mediterranean, from its origins to the present times, both by retracing its official channels, and by trying to discover - or rediscover - hidden and unsuspected itineraries. All this enabling myths to be uncovered and forgotten legends to be remembered, such as those connected to the most archaic and traditional stratifications of cultures. The objective being to enhance the deep bond between the new generations and their ancestral roots in the thousand-year-old civilisation to which they belong. A civilisation that we all hold inside us, that awakens with the breath of the "Mother Goddess", with the rhythm of the heartbeat or with the gentle lapping of the sea on our shores...

Thanks must therefore be paid to the national Erasmus agencies which, together with the efforts made by the headmasters, have made it possible for this dream to become a reality.

Although the project could not contemplate carrying out the last mobility of students which was planned for Malaga in Spain, due to the emergency situation caused by the pandemic, we would like to conclude by quoting a consideration expressed by the Headmaster of the "Aristosseno" High School of Taranto, Prof. Salvatore Marzo, who is the true creator and "patron" of the Project:

"Life is too short and unrepeatable to drink cheap wine, eat homologated and standardized food and continue to import light heartedly crops of plants selected elsewhere, or worse still, often foreign to our habitat, neglecting our extraordinary heritage of biodiversity."

1. HISTORY HERBS AND SPICES

Spices and herbs have its origins from various part of the world. We have abundant anecdotal information documents the historical use of herbs and spices for their health benefits. Early documentation suggests that hunters and gatherers wrapped meat in the leaves of bushes, accidentally discovering that this process enhanced the taste of the meat. Over the years, spices and herbs were used for medicinal purposes. Spices and herbs were also used as a way to mask unpleasant tastes and odors of food, and later, to keep food fresh. Ancient civilizations did not distinguish between those spices and herbs used for flavoring from those used for medicinal purposes. When leaves, seeds, roots, or gums had a pleasant taste or agreeable odor, it became in demand and gradually became a norm for that culture as a condiment. Papyri from Ancient Egypt in 1555 BC classified coriander, fennel, garlic and thyme as health promoting spice. Records from that time also note that laborers who constructed the Great Pyramid of Cheops consumed onion and garlic as a means to promote health.

At the crossroads of land trade from India and sea trade from the Mediterranean, spices played a huge role in Phoenician trade. The Phoenicians were expert merchants and smooth navigators; so much so that at the end of the 14th century B.C., spices were called "Phoenician merchandise." These slick middlemen knew how to offer their services to kings as well as pharaohs in order to extend their supply sites and possibly pave the way to India.

From the dawn of biblical times (17th century BC), spices were prized for a wide variety of uses including religious offerings, burial rituals, medicines, trade, and seasoning. Spices are mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible. "The Song of Songs" (about 900 BC )lists a variety of spices as the symbols of a good woman. Legend has it that around 1000 B.C. Queen Sheba visited King Solomon in Jerusalem to offer him "120 measures of gold, many spices, and precious stones.". The Israelites described in The Book of Exodus manna bread as being “white like coriander seeds” . In The New Testament spices were described as anointing the body of Jesus.

Arab influence

Arab traders were the first to introduce spices into Europe. Realizing that they controlled a commodity in great demand, the traders kept their sources of supply secret and made up fantastic tales of the dangers involved in obtaining spices.

Early on, spices were used as a source of trading. During the ancient Roman Empire, trading largely came from Arabia. About the 1st century, AD, the Roman scholar Pliny made the connection between the Arabian stories and the inflation of spices and herbs. Mohammed (570-632), who established the principles of Islam in the Koran, also co-owned a shop that stocked myrrh, frankincense, and Asian spices.

From the 10th century on, the crusades prompted a rediscovery of spices; seasonings made an obvious comeback to the tables of the great and powerful European courts. Brought to the Mediterranean basin by Italian ships, the "wealth of the Orient" was subsequently sold at market fairs to supply the Northern European countries. At this time, spiced wines from Italy and Spain were very popular. Marco Polo mentioned spices frequently in his travel memoirs (about 1298). When Christopher Columbus set out on his second voyage (1493), he brought the Spanish physician Diego Chanca, who helped to discover the spices capsaicin (red pepper) and allspice for Spanish cuisine.

MODERN SPICES AND HERBS USAGE

Today, colonial empires have all but vanished, spices are used in almost everything we eat and people are increasingly interested in enjoying spices and herbs for health benefits. The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world. This is often attributed to low saturated fat consumption, moderate wine consumption and high vegetable consumption. However, herbs and spices associated with these diets may also play an important role in the quality of this diet. In recent years when the Mediterranean diet was formulated and depicted in the form of the Mediterranean diet pyramid, initially Mediterranean culinary Herbs and Spices have not taken the place they deserved. Finally in a latter revision of the Mediterranean diet pyramid they were glamorously introduced and the Med diet pyramid was updated.

2. TYPES AND DEFINITION OF THE MOST USED HERBS & PLANTS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, TASTES AND TRADITIONS

ASPARAGUS

The term asparagus (from the Greek aspharagos, which comes from the Persian" asparag" (meaning sprout) can designate both the whole plant and the shoots of the Asparagus Officinalis plant. It belongs to the Liliaceae family, a monocotyledonous angiosperm. Asparagus has particular diuretic properties, it is appreciated by gourmets and has a thousand-year history behind it. It is a dioecious species that bears male and female flowers on different plants: the fruits (products of female plants) are small red berries containing black seeds. The plant is equipped with rhizomes, modified stems that grow underground forming a reticulum; the asparagus spear (or shoot), the epigeal and edible part of the plant, branch off from them. In case of forced cultivation, the shoot is white while in the open field due to chlorophyll photosynthesis it assumes a green colour.

HISTORY OF ASPARAGUS

It was cultivated and used in the Mediterranean by the Egyptians and in Asia Minor 2000 years ago, as well as in Spain. While it does not appear that the ancient Greeks cultivated asparagus, the Romans,since 200 BC., had manuals in which their cultivation is meticulously expounded. The asparagus was mentioned by Theophrastus, Cato, Pliny and Apicius; in particular, the latter two accurately described not only the cultivation method, but also the preparation method. The Roman emperors liked asparagus very much to the point of having special ships built to collect them, which had as their name precisely that of asparagus ("asparagus"). Cultivation began in France in the fifteenth century, and then, in the sixteenth century, it reached the peak of popularity in England as well; only later was it introduced in North America. Native Americans dried asparagus for later medicinal uses.

A Roman floor mosaic dating to between 350 and 375 CE and depicting asparagus. Food was a popular subject in mosaics throughout the Roman period. Provenance: Toragnola, Rome. (Vatican Museums, Rome).
CULINARY

Asparagus, to be consumed, is first boiled in salted water for a short time. It can be served in various ways and, depending on local traditions, there are several typical preparations. IN our 4 countries it is normally served slightly blanched and seasoned with garlic, lemon and oil as a side dish or is used to prepare omelettes and savory cakes especially during Easter. In Italy it is also used as a condiment for pasta and to make risotto.

HEALTH

Asparagus belongs to the same family as garlic and onion and also shares some positive properties with them (thanks to the diuretic effect it is an adjuvant against gout, kidney stones, rheumatism and dropsy). In particular, it plays an active role in the reduction of cases of eczema. The main components are asparagine (to which the characteristic odor of urine after ingestion and assimilation is due), glucosides, tannins, saponosides, potassium salts, Vitamin A, and to a lesser extent B and C. The asparagus, due to the presence of the Aspa or 1 protein, can be a cause of food allergy.

LEGENDS

An old tale by Plutarch mentions the asparagus in the Rome of the Caesars. In his De vita Caesaris, the philosopher writes that in 53 BC Caesar reached the city of Mediolanum, that is Milan, during the victorious campaign against the Gauls. Invited to the residence of Valerio Leonte, the guest was celebrated by serving a huge plate of asparagus with butter, a typical Celtic seasoning. Roman generals felt deeply offended by that “ointment,” which in Rome was only used for grooming. But Caesar, irreproachable, devoured the asparagus and thanked the landlord, summoning his generals to utter one of the capital phrases in the philosophy of taste: "De gustibus non est disputandum" (in matters of taste, there can be no disputes).

BASIL

Basil has been around for over 4,000 years. It was believed to have almost magical powers. It was found in mummies in Egypt because the ancient Egyptians used this herb for embalming.

Today, basil is frequently referred to as the ‘King of Herbs’. It was also once known as the ‘herb of poverty’ because it was believed to provide protection to the poor.

Basil was also once believed to identify chastity. If the herb withered in the hands of a woman, she was considered to be impure.

Basil was not introduced in Britain until the 16th century and they later brought this herb to North America. Today it is grown all over the Mediterranean region and in California.

BEAUTY
Basil and yogurt face mask: Take 1 tablespoon of basil paste and 1/2 teaspoon of unflavoured yogurt. Mix well. Apply this mask on the skin for 15-20 minutes. Use normal water to remove it. You can try this mask 2-3 times a week. It will make your skin clear and bright.
MYTHS AND LEGENDS

In India, this herb was considered a powerful protector. They planted it around their temples and placed it with the dead to protect them in the afterlife. In Crete, basil was considered an emblem of the devil. They placed this herb on their window ledges to help ward away this evil.

Basil was also once believed to identify chastity. If the herb withered in the hands of a woman, she was considered to be impure.In medieval times, many doctors thought basil was poisonous. During this same time, others believed that basil was good for “cheering the spirit” and “clearing the brain”.

CULINARY
"Caprese"

In recent years, has become one of the most popular herbs to use fresh. The iconic Italian dish caprese salad – with plenty of fresh basil, ripe tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper – puts it front and center, while grain salads often include it as more of a seasoning.

BERGAMOT

Bergamot is a bitter, uneateble citrus fruit – often called begamot orange – although maybe confusingly, it is yellow coloured like a lemon.

It grows on a spiny tree called the citrus bergamia that is originary from the tropical climes of South Asia and is now grown commercially in the province of Calabria in Southern Italy( 80% of the world's bergamot comes from Calabria!)The tree blossoms in winter and they are cultivated for the skin of the fruit, which is cold pressed for its oils flavours and scents.

What is lesser known about bergamot is that it is also grown in Antalya in southern Turkey where the skin is used to meke Turkish marmalade and tea.

Calabria has its own special microclimate

The bergamot farmers of Calabria, Italy, are a skilled and proud community. Their relationship with the land stretches back to the eighth century BC.

The ancestors of today’s bergamot farmers migrated to the region from ancient Greece. However, it wasn’t until the 1860s that the first bergamot gardens were planted in the villages of Calabria, many of which date from before the Italian unification.

Calabria has its own special microclimate. A thin strip of countryside nestled above Sicily and bordered to the east and west by the calm, warm waters of the Mediterranean, it’s perfect for growing bergamot.

Only a climate like this allows the skin of the bergamot fruit to develop a unique oil, which is prized the world over for its aroma.

In the 1920s, Calabrian bergamot oil became one of the most important ingredients in boutique perfumes. During a time when Europe was undergoing huge changes in terms of social institutions and culture, perfume became an unmistakable symbol of fashion, class and sophistication. To this day, bergamot oil lends a certain prestige to many high-quality fragrances, evoking the high society parties of generations past.

HEALTH

Several studies have shown that bergamot may help to reduce overall cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol. It may also help to increase “good” HDL cholesterol and has the potential to be an effective supplement to cholesterol drugs.

Use on the skin can be unsafe, particularly for children and pregnant women. Potential side effects of drinking large amounts of bergamot oil can include convulsions. Consuming bergamot oil as a component of tea may cause muscle cramps or blurred vision, and its application to the skin may induce rashes. The juice of the fruit has been used in European folk medicine for various disorders.

Commonly used in aromatherapy to elevate mood and alleviate stress, bergamot oil is also said to have characteristics similar to grapefruit essential oil in that it is antiseptic, antispasmodic, and analgesic (pain-relieving), possibly offering some benefit for health issues like skin infections.

Bergamot Marmalade:

Rinse and dry the bergamots, trim off the stem ends, then cut each in half and pluck out the seeds.

Put in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Let boil for five minutes, then drain well. Return the bergamots to the pot, add sugar, water, and salt, and bring to a boil. Cook the bergamots, stirring occasionally, until the marmalade begins to set. If not, continue to cook, repeating this step, until it reaches the desired consistency. It will look slightly more liquid than others when done. Once cool, store in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep for at least six months.

BLACK GRAPES

The grape vine, also called “Vitis vinifera”, is a polymorphic species that has the shape of a liana and can exceed a century of age. Other species of the Vitis genus , important for viticulture are those of North American origin, which have given rise to varieties for the production of grapes.

Grapes are soft, sugary fruits with a lot of vitamins and minerals. They grow on wine plants.

HEALTH

This fruit has a very important function, in fact the leaves perform an important oxidizing activity and they also regulate the microcirculation and the cardiovascular system. Instead, the oil extracted from the seeds facilitates the integrity and functionality of cell membranes and also counteracts disorders due to the menstrual cycle.

Black grapes reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and heart attack.They also help to lose weight, strengthen memory but when the nucleus is consumed excessively, they might create a poison effect.

CULINARY

The distinctive taste of Black grapes and its dark purplish colour makes it a perfect choice for various culinary experiments. In fact, it is one of major ingredients used to prepare wines, desserts and jams.

Pasito di Pantelleria
Moscatel de Malaga
Dolmades: Greek rolls of rice and meat in vine leaves
Karnıyarık: Turkey Stuffed Eggplants with raisin
Cake with black grapples
BORAGE

The origins of this «mysterious plant» aren’t clear yet: maybe it comes from Northern Africa or Syria this herb has settled well into the Mediterranean basin. However, it is known as one of the best herbal sources of greased acids squeezing its seeds. Years and years ago, it was used to make the melancholy and sadness go away and some people say that it was the secret ingredient of the Nepenthes, a prodigious drink used to bring people to the oblivion.

Leaves are deeply lines and pointed, the stem being covered by pungent hairs but it is worthwhile cultivating it for the beauty of its flowers. They are an intense grey-green color and are richer in protein. Used for herb drinks and medicines and, if squashed, the juice may be cooked but loses its sweet taste.

Much favored by bees it also stimulates the growth of strawberries and roses and keeps caterpillars away from tomato plants. After harvesting, the burnt dried stems with their high content of minerals can be used as an ecological and economical fertilizer.

Flowers may be candied or frozen into ice-cubes to serve with aperitifs or as a decoration.

CULINARY

The chopped leaves can be added to salads, fresh cheeses, risottos, potato balls or boiled like spinach. Water should not be added during cooking because the plant itself contains enough liquid.

Risotto with borage

Candied flowers are used to decorate cakes .

HEALTH

Popular medicine attributes many qualities to this herb. It is an excellent tonic for the nervous system and an infusion can calm. Leaves and flowers put into wine "blow your cares away". They contain potassium, calcium and vitamin C, being also a depurative, diuretic and softener.

Due to its softening properties this plant is excellent for dry and sensitive skins. Leaves can be added to bath water or lightly boiled and used for face packs.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

It has been used by the ancient Greeks to treat a hangover, Some writers also say that it was used to encourage Celtics before their clashes Its name comes from the Celtic "borrach" which means "courage. Borage was named Euphrosinum by Plinio “because it makes the man elated, happy and satisfied” he said. The Romans considered it a miracle cure against sadness and moodiness.

CAPER

A spontaneous perennial plant growing on rocks along the Mediterranean coast, of great decorative value due to its compact overhanging clumps and large white flowers. Capers grow spontaneously along the Mediterranean coast and in tropical and sub-tropical zones. Prefers a poor, sandy sublayer of earth, rich in calcium and well-drained. Difficult to cultivate because germination requires natural conditions.

The best Italian capers come from the Eolian islands and Apulia. The capers from Pantelleria are considered to be among the best in the world

Spain continues as the world's market leader in capers, although nowadays they are sourced from growers in Turkey.

FLOWERS

Bright, perfumed, white or pale pink flowers of the Capparis spinosa are rather large with numerous long purple central stamens. Flowering is prolonged and from May to September continual floral buttons are formed. Pick unopened buds. Conserve under salt or in brine. Highly appreciated in gastronomy.

HEALTH

The covering of the roots is highly diuretic, buds are used as a tonic and digestive.

CULINARY

Numerous Mediterranean recipes require the use of capers, which, together with anchovies and garlic, should always be present in the kitchen, adding taste to many dishes..

Capers are in a number of delicious Italian dishes as well, from chicken piccata and veal piccata to pasta puttanesca. You'll also see capers as a traditional garnish of beef carpaccio.

In Greece, capers grow larger in the rocky crags of islands and mountains, and large peeled capers the size of tiny figs take center stage in a minimalist Santorini appetizer salad of pickled caper petals in vinaigrette and nothing more. They are also in traditional Greek salads with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, peppers, feta, oregano, and a red wine vinaigrette, and pickled capers are worked into many a cooked tomato or fish dish.

Greek salad with capers
Marinated anchovies with capers
Pantesca salad
CHAMOMILE

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) belongs to the Asteraceae (daisy) family and is one of the most well-known plants in traditional medicine. Its origins lie in the Near East and Southern and Eastern Europe. Chamomile blooms in the summer in sunny locations and can be found growing in fields, gardens or along the roadside. Both prefer light, fertilised, well-drained soil. One type of non-flowering cammomile, Treneague, makes an excellent carpet requiring little maintainance. Flowering carpets can be obtained using other species of this plant. Flowers are picked when completely open towards the end of summer in the central hours of the day to facilitate drying but harvesting is possible all year. Heads are usually dried.

HEALTH: This medicinal plant contains various active ingredients, such as flavonoids, mucilage, polysaccharides and essential oil. It has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and antibacterial properties. also has a positive effect on the metabolism of the skin. It stimulates the skin's metabolism, supporting tissue regeneration and alleviating inflammation.The calming effect of this precios herb has even been recognised by youngsters today who have used the word cammomile to mean 'calm down
BEAUTY: Chamomile is a true beauty product to add to baths, to calm irritated skins or tired or inflammed eyes, shines and strengthens fair hair which can be rinsed in a decoction of flowers boiled for 20 minutes.
CHICORY

Chicory is best known as a coffee substitute or additive, which is made from the roasted root of this plant. The plant is related to the Dandelion, yet has a blue flower and is called "Blue Sailors". The leaves can be eaten in the spring as a bitter green much like dandelion. The leaves are rich in vitamin c.

HEALTH

The bitter principles and starches are of interest here for its employment in herbal pharmacy. The cultivated varieties contain very large amounts of carbohydrates, inulin, fructose, and fiber and these can be extracted to form a solid substance for tableting, as well as a "prebiotic", providing a food source for friendly bacteria to use during implantation. The root is used and has properties similar to those of dandelion. The leaves and roots are tonic, help regulate the release of fluids and water-soluble waste, have mild laxative properties and support and regulate kidney and liver function.*

The piercing blue flowers appear from late spring right through to late autumn and the strong, deep perennial roots and the flat leaf rosettes protect the plant through the winter. No wonder that chicory was a symbol of perseverance and endless waiting as well as a protector of the martyrs in the Christian Middle Ages.
CORIANDER

Native to the Mediterranean and Middle East regions, the plant is widely cultivated in many places worldwide for its culinary uses. Its dry fruits and seeds, which are also known as coriander, are used to flavour many foods, particularly sausages, curries, Scandinavian pastries, liqueurs, and confectionery, such as English comfits. Its delicate young leaves, known as “cilantro”

CULINARY

Its leaves and fruits have a recognizable and pleasant aroma and are often used raw or dried for culinary practices.It also works y surprisingly well as a substitute for parsley in many recipes

Mainly used in liqueurs such as Ratafia and Ambrosia. Whole seeds are used to flavour homemade preserves, Crushed seeds flavour meat and fish dishes as well as sausages.

HEALTH

It is used like sweeteners in the pharmaceutical industry , seeds or used as spices. It is antibacterial , antioxidant, antimicrobial and helps heart health and digestion , lows cholesterol.

CROCUS

Crocus are one of the first flowers to bloom each spring. In cold climates, their cheery blossoms that often open when there's still snow on the ground. Crocus flowers come in Easter egg colors of purple, yellow, lavender, cream and white. Over time, these carefree bulbs will naturalize and multiply to produce more flowers every year. Crocus blossoms are magnets for hungry bees, who are drawn to the rich, golden pollen inside each flower.Crocus is a plant grown from onions. His stem is thick and short, its leaves resemble broad grass leaves. It strengthens the immune system and their ointment can be used on skin.

START WITH A BETTER BULB

When you compare two crocus bulbs side by side, it’s easy to see differences in quality. Larger bulbs, like the one shown on the far left, contain more food energy to fuel plant growth. These bulbs will produce stronger plants with more flowers. Crocuses grow from corms (not true bulbs) but for ease they are commonly referred to as bulbs.

ELDERBERRY

The elderberry plant was originally found in Europe and the Caucasus and its origins are very ancient, and to think that elderberry remains have been found in settlements dating back to the Neolithic. It was believed to have magical powers. Some of its parts (mainly flowers and fruit) were used for therapeutic purposes.

Elder flowers are many small and very fragrant white stars that bloom in late spring from a plant of the Caprifoliaceae family.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

The name elder is also linked to the millenary history of this plant, whose woods were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to build a musical instrument called "sambykè". We therefore find it in food, in art, but elderberry was much more in the past too.

In Germany it was called "Magic Tree", because from the wood of its young branches, cut in silent places and far from the crowing of the cock, magic flutes were built to protect against spells; according to ancient German traditions, it was also the "Tree of Holda", a medieval fairy with blond hair who lived in the elders.

In Austria it is still known today as "Pharmacy of the Gods". Here the peasant tradition foresees to bend down seven times in front of the plant, as well as the parts of the Elder from which powerful medicines can be extracted specifically: flowers, with purifying action; fruits, for bronchitis and colds; leaves, for compresses on the skin; bark, as an intestinal rebalancing; decoction of roots against gout; resin for dislocations and finally buds against neuralgia.

For the pagans it protected from demons and witches, for this reason there was always an Elder tree in monasteries and peasant houses. Used for some time for its countless qualities, in addition to its many therapeutic applications, it was also used for dyeing fabrics.

In other countries, such as Russia and Sicily, the elder tree is a symbol of protection. It was once believed, by hanging elder leaves, branches or blossoms at ones door and windows it would ward off evil influence, witches, serpents and robbers

Elderberries can be baked into pastries, cooked into a syrup or dried for later use. The only edible parts of the elderberry tree are the berries and flowers
HEALTH: Its history dates back as far as 400 BC, and Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” called the elder tree his “medicine chest.” In folk medicine today, the elderberry is considered one of the world’s most healing plants. Elderberry plant is a good source of protein vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. The berries and flowers could help tame inflammation, , lessen stress , and help protect your heart.
FAVA BEANS

Fava beans, also called broad beans, are a popular ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Open one up and you’ll find big, flat, oval-shaped green legumes nestled inside. They are much larger in size compared to those round sweet peas you find in the frozen aisle. The flavor is complex- earthy, slightly bitter, sweet, yet has a tender and buttery texture when cooked.

Broad beans and chicory is a simple and genuine dish of the Apulian peasant tradition made with two main ingredients: dried peeled broad beans and wild chicory, herbs that grow spontaneously, with a typical bitter taste, all flavored with excellent extra virgin olive oil.
FENNEL

Fennel is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, but it becomes in many parts of the world, especially on dry soils, near the sea-coast and on riverbanks. It has a very pungent smell. Most of people like fennel tea and it is very healthy. It reduces headache, it is good for cold in children and if you have cold you can drink fennel tea it will good for you. Fennel is widely cultivated, both in its native range and elsewhere, for its edible, strongly flavored leaves and fruits. Florence fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Azoricum Group; syn. F. vulgare var. Azoricum) is a cultivar group with inflated leaf bases which form a bulb-like structure. It is of cultivated origin, and has a mild anise-like flavor, but is sweeter and more aromatic. Florence fennel plants are smaller than the wild type. The inflated leaf bases are eaten as a vegetable, both raw and cooked. Several cultivars of Florence fennel are also known by several other names, notably the Italian name “finocchio”.

The bulb, foliage, and fruits of the fennel plant are used in many of the culinary traditions of the world. The small flowers of wild fennel (known as fennel "pollen") are the most potent form of fennel, but also the most expensive. Dried fennel fruit is an aromatic, anise- flavored spice, brown or green in color when fresh, turning slowly a dull gray as the fruit ages. The leaves are delicately flavored and similar in shape to those of dill.The bulb, foliage, and fruits of the fennel plant are used in many of the culinary traditions of the world.

HEALTH

Wine may be obtained by leaving 150 gms. of fennel seeds in 1 liter of good wine for about 10 days, filtering well and taking one spoon before meals and two to help digestion and reduce flattulance.

BEAUTY
Fennel seed face mask

Exfoliation is the key to getting healthy and glowing skin. You can make an exfoliating face mask using fennel seeds at home. To make this face mask, take 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, 2 tablespoons of oatmeal, and 1/4 cup of boiled water and mix well. Apply this mask on your face and leave it on for 20 minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry with a clean and soft towel. This DIY mask will leave your skin feeling super soft.

CULINARY
"Taralli" with fennell

They are the famous hard country biscuits Apulia

In the bowl of a stand mixer put all the liquids, the yeast and the salt. Mix well. Add the flour, the fennel seeds and mix well until all the ingredients are well amalgamated. Cut a chunk of dough and roll it into an 8 inch stick a little less than 1/2" tick. Unite and press both ends to form a little bow or any shape that you prefer. Let all the Taralli rest for about 15 mins. covered with a cloth.

Take a few taralli at the time and boil them in water. When you place the taralli in the boiling water they will sink to the bottom of the pan and may tend to stick to the bottom. With a wooden spoon, move them gently to remove them from the bottom. When they come up to the surface, remove them from the water and put them on a white cloth to dry. After you have boiled all your taralli, place all the taralli on a flat baking sheet and bake them for about 35 mins. at 380F. Keep an eye on them as all ovens have their own personality. Midway thru the baking cycle, turn the taralli to make sure that they cooke evenly on both sides.

Cream of fennel
FIG

Figs are believed to be one of the oldest fruits cultivated by man. Enjoyed by people for millennia, this emblematic fruit of the Mediterranean Basin has left its mark on each century.The common fig is indigenous to an area extending from Asiatic Turkey to northern India, but natural seedlings grow in most Mediterranean countries; it is cultivated in warm climates. In the Mediterranean region the fig is so widely used, both fresh and dried, that it is called “the poor man’s food.”

Culinary

Figs are also used in making a variety of baked goods as well as preserves and sauces. When preparing, Figs can be baked, poached, grilled, and sauteéd. The sweet flavor of this food item goes well with pork (especially pancettta and prosciutto), lamb, poultry, and cheese such as Gorgonzola or Goat cheeses.

Figs "maritati"
“ Pan de higo” Spain

The figs maritati are a simple and very good dessert that is part of the tradition of Southern Italy and in particular of Apulia and of all the Salento. To make fig maritati you have to start from dried fries, you can buy them ready-made or prepare them home by drying the fresh ones in the sun.

Preparation: toast the almonds in the oven at 120°C for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile blanch the dried figs for a couple of minutes, open them and arrange them with the pulp upwards in the baking sheets covered with baking paper. Place the figs in the oven for 15 minutes; if the edges curl, open them with your hands.Grate the lemon rind and pour it onto the figs, place an almond in the centre of eachfig and cover with another open fig. Cook the fig again in the oven at 170° for 15-20 minutes. Put the figs in a clean jar and alternate them with the bay leaves…

HEALTH

Figs — and their leaves — are packed with nutrients and offer a variety of potential health benefits. They may promote healthy digestion, decrease your risk of heart disease, and help you manage your blood sugar levels.

They also contain small amounts of a wide variety of nutrients, but they’re particularly rich in copper and vitamin B6.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

Figs have been associated with health and prosperity since ancient times. They’re symbolically linked to Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility, and were offered to the god Bacchus in ancient Rome.

In Latin myth the fig was held sacred to Bacchus and employed in religious ceremonies; the fig tree that overshadowed the twin founders of Rome in the wolf’s cave was an emblem of the future prosperity of the race.

GARLIC

Garlic is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and is a versatile seasoning that complements most any savory dish. It originated in Asia and has been used for over 7,000 years for cooking and medicinal purposes. Garlc is widely used in Mediterranean sauces, stews, soups, salad dressings, casseroles, breads, and grain dishes.

HEALTH

It has also been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history; it has been taken to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases. Its therapeutic value was known in ancient times. Rich in vitamins, iron, sulphur and iodine disintoxicates the organism and works as an antibiotic. Useful for worms and disinfecting the intestine, it cleans blood, combats high blood pressure, prevents colds and increases memory. Allium ursinum leaves, eaten fresh in spring, purify and regenerate the skin.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

A head of garlic planted near a rose bush will keep plant-lice away, as well as intensifying the perfume of the rose itself, in that the roots absorb a substance from the garlic which works as an excellent insecticide. Remember to water during dry spells to facilitate the absorption of active

CULINARY

Garlic is one of the basic components of Mediterranean cooking.

"Coccioli" salad with parsley y garlic, typical dish of Taranto
Garlic sauce "Alioli" (Spain)
"Coquinas" in alioli
Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki (yogurt sauce) originated in India when the Ottoman Empire was in full swing, and was brought back to the Middle Eastern countries where it is most well known today. It is a traditional Greek and Turkey recipe

HOLLY

It is a low evergreen shrub with typical red berries used as a Christmas ornament belonging to the Ruscaceae family. It was widely used as a Christmas decoration.

Today its use is in decline but it will return because it is a beautiful plant from out hill forests and the Mediterranean scrub. Once its spring buds were collected and used in the kitchen like we do with asparagus and it is still used today in herbal medicine.

Pliny describes the Holly under the name of Aquifolius, needle leaf, and adds that it was the same tree called by Theophrastus Crataegus, but later commentators deny this. Pliny tells us that Holly if planted near a house or farm, repelled poison, and defended it from lightning and witchcraft, that the flowers cause water to freeze, and that the wood, if thrown at any animal, even without touching it, had the property of compelling the animal to return and lie down by it.

Holly leaves were formerly used as a diaphoretic and an infusion of them was given in catarrh, pleurisy and smallpox. They have also been used in intermittent fevers and rheumatism for their febrifugal and tonic properties, and powdered, or taken in infusion or decoction, have been employed with success where Cinchona has failed, their virtue being said to depend on a bitter principle, an alkaloid named Ilicin. The juice of the fresh leaves has been employed with advantage in jaundice.
The magic holly is a Christmas symbol because it is an expression of the persistent faith and hope during the darkness and winter cold. Christmas decorations are said to be derived from a custom observed by the Romans of sending boughs, accompanied by other gifts, to their friends during the festival of the Saturnalia, a custom the early Christians adopted. The origin has also been traced to the Druids, who decorated their huts with evergreens during winter as an abode for the sylvan spirits. An old legend declares that the Holly first sprang up under the footsteps of Christ, when He trod the earth, and its thorny leaves and scarlet berries, like drops of blood, have been thought symbolical of the Saviour's sufferings, for which reason the tree is called 'Christ's Thorn' in the languages of the northern countries of Europe. It is, perhaps, in connexion with these legends that the tree was called the Holy Tree, as it is generally named by many older writers.
HOT PEPPER

The hot pepper, or chili pepper, is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum which are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Hot peppers are widely used in many cuisines as a spice to add heat to dishes, they are an important part of the Mediterranean diet.

Hot peppers have been a part of the human diet in America since at least 7500 BC. Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter hot peppers. When the peppers were first introduced into Europe, they were grown in the gardens of Spanish and Portuguese monasteries. The monks experimented with the hot peppers and discovered that they could be used as a substitute for the expensive black

peppercorns. Hot peppers were used around the globe after a doctor on Columbus's ship in 1493, brought the first hot peppers to Spain, and wrote about the hot peppers medicinal effects.

From Mexico, hot peppers spread rapidly into the Phillipines and then to India, China, Indonesia, Korea and Japan.

USES

Capsaicin has several other medical uses and ongoing studies show promise in the prevention and control of an array of conditions. Throughout Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey chili peppers are used in almost every dish.

Chili peppers may make us sweat, but it’s worth the delicious, complex taste they add to food. Research indicates that they may make us feel fuller and help us live longer too.

The contrast in color and appearance makes chili plants interesting to some as a purely decorative garden plant.

Psychologists suggest that eating chilies is an example of a "constrained risk", in which extreme sensations can be enjoyed because they are not actually harmful.

HEALTH

Hot peppers are bursting with free-radical scouring antioxidants, and studies show that capsaicin exhibits antiviral and antibacterial properties as well. Proven topical applications of chili peppers include creams, gels, lotions and patches to relieve joint and nerve pain often associated with osteoarthritis and diabetic neuropathy. While capsaicin irritates, it may also have homeopathic qualities. In fact, scientists believe that capsaicin may be able deplete substance P, the neurotransmitter that alerts the central nervous system to pain. Favors digestion, stimulating gastric secretions, acts as a detergent and is particularly rich in vitamin C if consumed fresh.

BEAUTY
Paprika facial mask

Mix almond meal and paprika together then slowly add oil until mixture is smooth. Make sure to contact your dermatologist before trying any new face masks. Some people with sensitive skin may find peppers mixed into a mask to be too strong. It’s always best to do a test on a small area of your face first.

CULINARY
Gazpacho: Add the chopped tomatoes, red pepper, Anaheim pepper, hot pepper, cucumber, red onion and garlic to a large food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed with a spatula. While the food processor is running, drizzle in the red wine vinegar and olive oil and continue blending until smooth. Taste and season the gazpacho with salt and pepper. Serve immediately at room temp or transfer it to a container and refrigerate it, covered, until ready to serve topped with chopped hard- boiled egg, avocado or bacon (optional).
Tirokafteri, Greek souce with hot pepper
Menemen: Turkish Egg Dish with red and green chili pepper
Sun Dried Cruschi Peppers

Dried Senise peppers are called ‘cruschi’ in the local dialect of Senise. They are a quintessential taste of Basilicata

"ORECCHIETTE" with turnips and hot pepper
LAUREL

It is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glabrous smooth leaves, in the flowering plant family Lauraceae. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is used as bay leaf for seasoning in cooking. Its common names include bay tree, bay laurel, sweet bay, true laurel, Grecian laurel, The plant is the source of several popular herbs and one spice used in a wide variety of recipes, particularly among Mediterranean cuisines. Most commonly, the aromatic leaves are added whole to Italian pasta sauces. They are typically removed from dishes before serving, unless used as a simple garnish. as flavor agents during the food preparation stage.

HEALTH

Laurel is a good remedy provided with antiseptic, digestive and stimulant properties: effective against joint pain, it defends from temperature fluctuations and relieves insect bites and stings.

Laurel leaves are a real cure-all, as they are full of active substances with antiseptic, antioxidant and digestive properties, and mineral salts. In addition, it contains a considerable variety of vitamins: from vitamin A, beneficial for the wellness of eyes, skin and mucous membranes, and vitamins of the group B, useful for the nervous system and metabolism, to vitamin C, powerful anti- inflammatory, antioxidant and disinfectant, capable of stimulating the immune system.

Herbal teas and infusions: effective against digestive and respiratory disorders.

BEAUTY
Essential oil: against heartburn and migraine and protection from viruses and bacteria., soothing mosquito bites and for shiny hair.

The fresh decoction added to a bath relieves aching joints.

CULINARY

Laurel has been playing a key-role in cuisine since the Augustan Age, as witnessed by the gastronome Apicius in his "De re conquinaria," with his recipe of Creamed Kid Flavored with Laurel.

Its aroma stimulates the appetite and helps digestion, and is indispensable in stews, soups and sauces. It can also be added to marinades, cool, potato soup, paté stuffings, venison and other boiled fish. Remove the leaves before serving.

Creamed kid flavoured with laurel

Dress and prepare, bone, remove the intestines with the rennet and wash. Put in the mortar pepper, lovage, laser root, 2 laurel berries, a little chamomile and 2 or 3 brains, all of which crush. Moisten with broth and season with salt. Over this mixture strain 2 little spoons of milk and honey. With this forcemeat stuff the intestines and wrap them around the kid. Cover the roast with caul and parchment paper tightened with skewers, and place it in the roasting pan, adding broth, oil and wine. When half done, crush pepper, lovage, moisten with the roast's own gravy and a little reduced must; put this back into the pan and when the roast id done completely garnish it and bind the gravy with roux and serve.

TRADITIONS

In Italy there is a tradition of donating a laurel wreath to the graduating student after taking his degree.

In Latin the laurel wreath was called Laurus or laurea, which also indicated the laurel plant and, by extension, victory. This custom dates backs to Roman times.

The latter, in fact, considered the laurel plant sacred. It is no coincidence that laurel was a plant consecrated to Apollo, god of the sun, but also of music, sculpture, painting and poetry. It was for this reason that he was depicted with laurel twigs intertwined like a crown on his head, just like a king.

This is why this tradition has spread and been passed down to us. For a graduate it is a symbol of virtue and wisdom of great honor and great knowledge. The great knowledge acquired will be put into practice during the graduate’s life and for this reason they deserves to be crowned with laurel.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

Laurel has been known since ancient times. In Greece and Rome it was a symbol of peace and victory in military and sporting activities. That is why Laurel is also called Lauro Nobili. In Ancient Greece, Laurel was consecrated to Apollo, God of Music and Poetry, as well as the Oracle of Delfi and is the reason for which the first of the six temples were decorated with Laurel frescos. It is said that the Priestess of the Oracle fell into a trance after inhaling the smoke of the burning Laurel leaves. A large amount of the plant can cause hypnotic trances. Laurel was a sacred plant of Ascepio, sun of Apollo, God of Medicine. For centuries, the plant has been used against many diseases, especially the plague. Even today Laurel is hung in houses to refresh the air, and also used to protect flour and dried figs against harmful insects.

Daphne, in Greek mythology, the personification of the laurel (Greek daphnē), a tree whose leaves, formed into garlands, were particularly associated with Apollo (q.v.). Traditionally, the special position of the laurel was connected with Apollo’s love for Daphne, the beautiful daughter of a river god (probably Ladon) who lived a pastoral existence in either Thessaly, the Peloponnese, or Syria. She rejected every lover, including Apollo. When the god pursued her, Daphne prayed to the Earth or to her father to rescue her, whereupon she was transformed into a laurel. Apollo appropriated the laurel for poets and, in Rome, for triumphs. Daphne was also loved by Leucippus, who was killed because of Apollo’s jealousy.

LAVENDER

Lavender is grown in northern Africa and the Mediterranean mountains, often for extraction of its essential oils.

Lavender initially grew wild at the lower altitudes in the Maritime Alps, but was eventually cultivated throughout these areas to create devastatingly beautiful landscapes that also provide ground cover, prevent soil erosion, and support the local economy.

HEALTH

The medicinal benefits of using lavender to treat anxiety, fungal infections, hair loss, and wounds have been demonstrated.

  • Lavender can be used as well to treat depression, high blood pressure, nausea, menstrual pain, or eczema, among other conditions.
  • Lavender is effective for treating alopecia areata, a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body. It is proven that lavender oil could be effective in combating antifungal-resistant infections.
  • The essential oils distilled from the plant seemed to work by destroying the membranes of fungal cells. The study showed that Lavandula oil is powerful on a wide spectrum.
LEGENDS

A Greek physician to the Roman army wrote that lavender taken internally would relieve indigestion, sore throats, headaches, and externally cleaned wounds.

The Romans named the plant after its use in their bathing rituals (“lava” is to wash), realizing lavender isn’t only relaxing, but also antiseptic.

English herbalist wrote that lavender was “especially good use for all griefs and paines of the head and brain,” and Charles VI of France insisted his pillow always contain lavender so he could get a good night’s sleep. People still use lavender in pillows today

In Asian traditional medicine, lavender has long been used for helping the mind by cooling the heart, helping people relax and find relief from troubles in the mind that give rise to tension in the body.

At the same time, a French biochemist developed a unique method of applying these oils to the skin with massage, now used all over the world.

CULINARY

Both fresh and dried lavender flowers find their way into the Piemontese kitchen. The lavender honey produced by small, local apiaries is a prized regional ingredient. Thick, creamy, and visibly crystallized, it lends a heady flavor and aroma to cakes, cookies, and jams, drizzled on roasted rabbit, wildfowl and creamy farmhouse cheeses.

Lavender honey
Cheesy corn boule with lavender honey
Greek Roman recipe: cheese cake with lavender honey
LENTISK

The lentisk tree (Pistacia lentiscus) is an evergreen shrub of the Anacardiaceae family. It is a widespread species throughout the Mediterranean basin, and a common plant in Crete. Generally, it does not go beyond 400-600 meters. It is a heliophilic, thermophilic and xerophilic plant, it resists well to prolonged conditions of aridity, while it fears the frosts. It has no particular pedological needs. It is one of the most widespread and representative shrubs of the Oleo-ceratonion, often in association with the olive and myrtle The lentisk is recognized pedogenetic properties and is considered an improving species in the soil. The soil present under the bushes of this species is considered a good substrate for gardening. For these reasons, the species is important, from an ecological point of view, for the recovery and evolution of degraded areas.The plant flowers in spring with peculiar small deeply red flowers, which contrast beautifully with the deep green of its leaves. All parts of the bush are aromatic. The aromatic pea-sized red-blackish berries are edible.

Greek ancient writers call the plant 'Schinos', as it still is called in Greece. Lentisk has been known for over 2400 years, for its leaves, berries and especially its resin, which is produced by making cuts in the bark in the summer months and collecting the exuding ivory coloured resinous 'tears'. This resin is traditionally produced on the island of Chios, Greece since ancient times Today, mastic or mastix, the resin produced in Chios has the status "protected designation of origin" in the EU. Its name comes from the Greek 'masao', I chew.

As the resin, also the leaves, twigs, flowers and berries contain a small amount of essential oil, which can be distilled.

The essential oil obtained from the gum/resin is commonly called mastic oil, whereas the oil obtained from the leaves is correctly called lentisk oil. The oil has a lemony, balsamic, resinous scent.

HEALTH: Astringent, balsamic, antibacterial and antifungal.The essential oil of both the gum and the leaves, however, has shown significant anti microbial activity against a variety of pathological micro organisms . Used as a digestive and antibacterial remedy for the digestive system, intoothpastes and skin preparations. The leaves, rich in tannins, were used for the tanning of skins. Essential oil of Lentisk can be used in face-washes and tonics, aftershaves and shampoos In Byzantine times, lentisk was a common ingredient in hair-cosmetics.
MYTHS AND LEGENDS

The bush is attributes to Artemis (Diana). It is told, that king Minos chased the nymph Britomaris, who leapt into the sea off a steep cliff to avoid his pursuits. She was deified and rewarded with immortality for her chastity by Artemis, who gave her the name Dictynna, lady of the nets, and turned her priestess into a Lentisk bush so that she forever could remain a virgin. Its balsamic, resinous scent symbolizes virginity and purity, the eternal maiden aspect of Artemis.

The ancient Egyptians used its resin as an incense and for embalming. Recently scientists found evidence of mastic gum trade from Chios 2400 years ago, when they analysed remains in amphorae from a shipwreck off the island.

Many ancient writers such as Theophrastus (400BC), Pliny the Elder, Dioscurides (First century AD) and Galen (129-200 AD) refer to the lentisk or mastic bush. Dioscurides, in his De Materia Medica (ca 70AD), tells us that 'Schinos is a well known tree, all its parts are warming and astringent, the fruit as well as the leaves and the bark have the same properties"

Medieval alchemists attributed the scent of lentisk to the planet mercury, transcending solid and liquid states, life and death, day and night, earth and heaven.

LENTISK OIL: in Sardinia, lentisk oil (oll' estincu) was the most consumed vegetable fat up to the twentieth century after olive oil and olive oil. The olive oil of a certain quality was in fact destined for the tables of the rich and for special occasions, while a large part of the oil produced, being of poor quality, was mainly used to power the lamps. Lentisk oil was perhaps appreciated for its marked aromatic properties, far superior to those of lampante oil, but in any case it was a food destined for the soup kitchens of the poor, which was widely used in periods of famine and on occasions of poor harvest from olive trees and olive trees. The tradition of lentisk oil as an edible fat was lost in the mid-twentieth century, when in the Second World War there was a greater diffusion of olive oil first, of seed oils later. It is an oil with a low yield (8-13%), consequently relatively expensive, with a distribution of fatty acids (50-60% oleic acid, 20-30% palmitic acid, 10-25% linoleic acid) very similar to that of dozens of oil plants with much higher yield. Later, lentisk oil had rare sporadic uses as a niche product or for folkloric purposes. The use of oil mills to extract lentisk oil is not recommended, as the organoleptic properties of the olive oil extracted in subsequent processing are polluted by the aromatic properties of the lentisk
MALLOW

Mallow is a bushy herbaceous plant belonging to the Malvaceae family. Some cultivars can also grow to a height of 3 meters. There are countless varieties of Mallow (Hollyhock, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Scarlet globe mallow f.e.), but the most common is Mallow sylvestris, widespread throughout Italy. It grows spontaneously in the plains, in the hills, in meadows, in public gardens, in uncultivated places and close to the woods.

HEALTH

Leaves and flowers contain a large variety of active ingredients, which include tannins, mineral salts, vitamin A, C and B1 .

It surely can help in all diseases that affect the digestive and respiratory system , but also for inflammation of the bladder ( cystitis ), and for external use as a soothing in cases of conjunctivitis and reddened skin and to eliminate acne and skin impurities.

USES

Ancient Egyptians mixed the mallow sap with grains, nuts and honey to make sweet cakes for pharaohs and other nobility. The cakes were definitely off limits for common folk. The sap was also used to treat a long list of maladies and respiratory problems. The leaves were used to make a poultice that relieved skin irritations. Several hundred years later, French cooks discovered that mixing the sap with corn syrup and egg whites, the result was the modern marshmallow. However the sap is no longer used to create today’s marshmallows.

Herbal tea with mallow
Tea is not the only way to take advantage of this fantastic plant. Freshly picked leaves and flowers can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked in soups, risottos, minestrone, etc. You can also use them to prepare baths and foot baths , to practice enemas and to make soothing compresses for red skin, or with impurities
Decoction
For the preparation of the decoction both the leaves and the mallow flowers can be used. The decoction is prepared by putting the plant in cold water, inside a saucepan. Put the dried grass in a cup of water, then bring the water to a boil and boil for at least 15-20 minutes . In case of digestive disorders or inflammation of the urinary tract, drink from 3 to 4 cups a day of the decoction. For inflammation of the mouth, gingivitis and sore throat, you can use it to make gargles of 4-5 minutes. For the impurities of skin, as well as conjunctivitis, you can prepare a pack to place gently on the concerned area
MEDLAR

Medlar, botanically classified as Mespilus germanica, is an ancient fruit belonging to the Rosaceae family. It’s a pome fruit native to areas surrounding the Black Sea, which is attached to the Mediterranean sea. That means that the Medlar is a great fruit tree to plant in our Mediterranean climate, it will save you water.However, however, its Latin name (Mespilus germanica) is considered improper because the species originates from the Caucasian area. Despite this, the plant had a considerable spread later in the Germanic area, so much so that Linnaeus classified it with the current Latin name

Medlar trees have been cultivated for thousands of years as an ornamental cultivar, and there are many different varieties, with royal and nottingham being the most widely grown types. The trees are also cultivated for their edible fruits that require a unique ripening process known as bletting, where the fruits are left to fully ripen, changing in appearance, texture, and flavor. Medlar has a rich history in culinary applications and has been mentioned in many literary works of Cervantes and Shakespeare.

CULINARY

It can be stewed or baked into sweet applications such as tarts, pies, and cakes. Medlar fruits also make a rich fruit jelly that can be spread on toast, served with blue or hard salty cheeses, stuffed into baked apples, or slathered on roasted meats. In Europe, the pulp is traditionally mixed with sugar and cream and consumed as an accompaniment to wine. The fruits can also be added to yogurts as a sweet topping. Medlar fruits pair well with cream cheese, blue cheese, spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom, fruits such as apples, quince, and plums, and meats such as lamb, pheasant, poultry, and pork.

HEALTH

Medlar fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C to boost the immune system and are a good source of iron, a mineral that helps produce the protein hemoglobin that carries oxygen within the bloodstream. The fruits also contain calcium to strengthen bones and lower amounts of vitamin B1, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

MITHS AND LEGENDS

This species despite its very modest appearance, was a plant whose fruits were very sacred both to the Greeks and to the Romans, because they were linked to the myth of the God Cronus. The plant was also able to protect against the black magic of sorcerers.

MINT

Mint is a perennial herbaceous plant known and appreciated for its aromatic qualities. It has also been used since ancient times for its virtues. It is easy to grow, as long as it has moist soil and regular sunshine. It can even become invasive in a garden where it pleases! The whole plant spreads an aromatic and penetrating scent.

Mint, under its general name because it is present in many varieties, was known and appreciated by the Ancients.

CULINARY

This unmistakable strong aroma is particularly appreciated in summer being the main ingredient of syrups and refreshing teas. Leaves can be added to vegetables and chocolate desserts.

"Rigatoni" with "ricotta" and mint (Italia)
KEFTEDES: Meatballs with mint (Greece)
Sangría with mint (España)
Yayla corbasi: rice and yogurt soup with mint (Turkey)
HEALTH

The Assyrians and Babylonians used it to fight laziness and the Hebrews as a stimulant. Dioscorides used it for stomach weakness.

In the 19th century, Trousseau recommended it not only against vomiting, but also against incoherent coughing quinte uses. But its virtues are not only digestive and antispasmodic. If Hippocrates and Aristotle considered it anaphrodisiac, Dioscorides and Matthiole thought the opposite. Leclerc, along with others, considered Mint to be a stimulant "very suitable for love games".

SYMBOLISM

This highly perfumed herb is the symbol of hospitality. Homer wrote of labourers who rubbed their kitchen tables with mint before serving guests their food. Always popular, it was scattered in rooms and wardrobes, much as deodorant is used today. The strong mint liqueur distilled by monks from Medieval times, was originally used to purify their drinking water.

More generally in Antiquity, the Mint had an almost magical symbolism, it is said that it could cure the evils of the soul, give courage, help beneficial actions to be realized.

MYRTLE

Myrtus communis, the "common myrtle", is native across the Mediterranean region, Macaronesia, western Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. The plant is an evergreen shrub or small tree, growing to 5 metres (16 ft) tall.

The leaf is entire, 3–5 cm long, with a fragrant essential oil.The star-like flower has five petals and sepals, and numerous stamens. Petals usually are white. The flower ispollinated by insects.

The fruit is a round berry containing several seeds, most commonly blue-black in colour. A variety with yellow-amber berries is also present. The seeds are dispersed by birds that eat the berries.

Because of its elegance of habit, appealing odour, and amenity to clipping by the topiarius, as much as for sacred associations, the myrtle was an indispensable feature of Roman gardens. As a reminder of home, it will have been introduced wherever Roman elites were settled, even in areas of the Mediterranean Basin where it was not already endemic.In England it was reintroduced in the 16th century, traditionally with the return from Spain in 1585 of Sir Walter Raleigh, who also brought with him.

Myrtus communis will have needed similar protection from winter cold and wet. Alice Coats notes an earlier testimony: in 1562 Queen Elizabeth I's great minister Lord Burghley wrote to Mr Windebank in Paris to ask him for a lemon, a pomegranate and a myrtle, with instructions for their culture—which suggests that the myrtle, like the others, was not yet familiar.

CULINARY

"Mirto" is one of the most typical drinks of Sardinia and comes in two varieties: mirto rosso (red) produced by macerating the berries, and mirto bianco (white) produced from the less common yellow berries and sometimes the leaves.

"Mirto" liquor

In Calabria, a Mirto branch is threaded through dried figs and then baked. The figs acquire a pleasant taste from the essential oils of the herb. They are then enjoyed through the winter months.

Many Mediterranean pork dishes include myrtle berries, and roasted piglet is often stuffed with myrtle sprigs in the belly cavity, to impart an aromatic flavour to the meat.

The berries, whole or ground, have been used as a pepper substitute.They contribute to the distinctive flavor of Mortadella sausage and the related American Bologna sausage.

HEALTH

Myrtle, along with willow tree bark, occupies a prominent place in the writings of Hippocrates, Pliny, Dioscorides, Galen, and the Arabian writes. It has been prescribed for fever and pain by ancient physicians since at least 2,500 BC in Sumer.

Myrtle's effects are due to high levels of salicylic acid, a compound related to aspirin and the basis of the modern class of drugs known as NSAIDs. In several countries, particularly in Europe and China, there has been a tradition for prescribing this substance for sinus infections.

MISTLETOE

Some mistletoes live on the branches of the apple tree. Only the leaves of the mistletoe should be consumes , the fruit should not be consumed.

Mistletoe is most consumed by making tea.

European mistletoe has always attracted popular interest and has been surrounded by a number of myths and legends. In cultures across pre- Christian Europe, mistletoe was seen as a representation of divine male essence.

According to Pliny the Elder, the Celts considered it a remedy for barrenness in animals and an antidote to poison, and sacred when growing on oak trees.

He describes a Celtic ritual sacrifice and banquet at which a druid dressed in white would climb an oak tree to collect mistletoe using a golden sickle.

Modern druids may use the Native American Phoradendron leucarpum as well as other mistletoe species.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

Mistletoe figured prominently in Greek mythology, and is believed to be the Golden Bough of Aeneas, ancestor of the Romans.Also in Greek mythology mistletoe was used by heroes to access the underworld.

European mistletoe has always attracted popular interest and has been surrounded by a number of myths and legends. In cultures across pre- Christian Europe, mistletoe was seen as a representation of divine male essence.

LEGENDS

The Romans associated mistletoe with peace, love and understanding and hung it over doorways to protect the household

HEALTH

Mistletoe leaves and young twigs are used by herbalists, and preparations made from them are popular in Europe, especially in Germany, for attempting to treat circulatory and respiratory system problems.Use of mistletoe extract in the treatment of cancer originated with Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy.

Although laboratory and animal experiments have suggested that mistletoe extract may affect the immune system and be able to kill some kinds of cancer cells, there is little evidence of its benefit to people with cancer.

Mistletoe tea

It can combat helps health of heart and blood vessels, relieves stress and sleep problems, treats asthma.

OLIVE

Olives are small fruits that grow on olive trees.

The olive was native to Asia Minor and spread from Iran, Syria and Palestine to the rest of the Mediterranean basin 6,000 years ago. It is among the oldest known cultivated trees in the world - being grown before the written language was invented. It was being grown on Crete by 3,000 BC and may have been the source of the wealth of the Minoan kingdom. The Phoenicians spread the olive to the Mediterranean shores of Africa and Southern Europe. Olives have been found in Egyptian tombs from 2,000 years BC. The olive culture was spread to the early Greeks then Romans. As the Romans extended their domain they brought the olive with them

Olives are very high in vitamin E and other powerful antioxidants. Studies show that they are good for the heart and may protect against cancer.

A territory like that of Mediterranean Europe offers an enormous variety of high quality olive types that are widely diversified over the array of origins and each of these expresses its own conditions of environment, climate and landscape. The result of this wealth of variety is an extraordinary biodiversity, to which each specific territory contributes with its own cultivated varieties (“cultivar”) of olives. Each cultivar provides its own personal properties of taste and smell to create this great wealth.

The European production of olives is particularly articulated with the single cultivars being the fruit of their unique territorial conditions and a specific genetic structure that has evolved naturally over time and represents an inimitable heritage in terms of nutritional character and taste.

The production regulations of PDO and PGI olive oils precisely indicate the types of cultivars that can be used for the production of a specific certified oil. Learning to distinguish between the different varieties is an important step in appreciating the best of these excellent resources of European agricultural heritage.

ONION

Onions are extremely popular to Mediterranean cuisine, as it enhances other vegetables, soups, sauces, seafood and meat dishes, grains and legumes . There are hundreds of varieties of onions including the large, round Spanish onion, the red-skinned Italian onion, smaller, yellow or white onions, pearl onions and green onions.

HEALTH

Onions were historically used as a preventative medicine during epidemics of cholera and the plague. They were apparently eaten by Roman emperor Nero as a cure for colds, and its reputation has made onions a popular component in the diets of many countries. More than just a tasty culinary plant, the onion contains natural sugar, vitamins A, B6, C and E, minerals such as sodium, potassium, iron and dietary fibre. In addition, onions are a good source of folic acid.

Liven with onion
Caramelized Tropea onions
ORANGE

Orange is a citrus fruit with a pleasant smell.

Oranges trees grow around the Mediterranean Region and they are usually 5 meters tall.

Orange’s peel, flower and leaf are used in the production of cosmetic products.

HEALTH

The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and calcium contained in oranges all support hearth health and prevent cold. 

The antioxidant vitamin C , when eaten in its natural form ( as in an orange ) can help to fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution.

TRADITIONS

Orange trees are a symbol of love and marriage in many cultures. t is said that the combination of orange flowers with marriage is due to the gods of Olympus. On the occasion of the wedding of Zeus and Hera, the goddess Earth brought an orange tree as a gift to the Father of the Gods. In love with the precious tree, Zeus arranged for the Hesperides to keep it in their legendary garden. Since then, the orange blossoms, so dear to the divinity, were considered a good omen for weddings.

Brides traditionally wear orange blossoms in their hair or carry them in their bouquet at their wedding. Orange blossoms are often part of the decoration on a wedding cake.

Orange jam
Orange jam is called marmalade. Traditionally, it is said to have been first made for Mary Queen of Scots or Marie Antoinette when they were sick. Neither of these stories is true, as marmalade was made in Portugal for many years before either of them was born. The term "marmalade", originally meaning a quince jam ("marmelada" in Portuguese), derives from the Portuguese word for this fruit, marmelo.
OREGANO

Mediterranean type oregano is a perennial herbaceous plant with small purplish flowers that grows to about 1 to 2 feet tall. It is native to temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region. The plant can also be grown in colder climates but often does not survive the winter. Leaves are typically harvested right before the flowers bloom. The name Origanum derives from Greek words meaning “joy of the mountain” since oregano thrives in high alti­tude Mediterranean climates. The Mediterranean variety is closely related to marjoram and is very similar in physical appearance. Oregano was popular in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome as a flavoring for vegetables, wines, meats, and fish.

CULINARY

Oregano's most prominent modern use is in cuisine. In Italy, Greece and Turkey it is most frequently used with roasted, fried, or grilled vegetables, meat, and fish, and it can be also found as a condiment, together with paprika, salt, and pepper.

HEALTH

The Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC) used oregano for antiseptic purposes and to protect against respiratory ailments and gastrointestinal distress. Medieval Europeans would chew on oregano leaves to alleviate rheumatism, toothache, indigestion and cough.

With its abundant flavonoids and phenolic acids, oregano is a potent antioxidant and anti- inflammatory agent. It relieves menstrual discomfort, muscular pain, and respiratory diseases.

The active molecules in oregano leaves – like carvacrol and thymol – are responsible for these benefits. But, it is not just these two compounds. This spice has a rich nutritional profile containing polyphenols and micronutrients.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

According to Greek mythology, the goddess Aphrodite created oregano as a symbol of happiness. The Greeks employed oregano in marriage ceremonies to provide joy and in funeral services to provide peace to the departed.

PARSLEY

Parsley is one of the most versatile herbs you can use.

Parsley originated in Southern Europe and is used in sauces, soups, meat marinades, dressings, salads, casseroles, stuffings, omelets, soft cheeses, and potato dishes. The two main types are curly and flat-leaf parsley, both rich in vitamins and minerals

POMEGRANATE

Pomegranate is a tree. Various parts of the tree and fruit are used to make medicine.

People use pomegranate for high blood pressure, athletic performance, heart disease, diabetes, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

Pomegranate has been used for thousands of years. It is in Greek, Hebrew, Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian mythology and writings. It is described in records dating from around 1500 BCE as a treatment for tapeworm and other parasites.

Many cultures use pomegranate as a folk medicine. Pomegranate is native to Iran. It is primarily cultivated in Mediterranean counties, parts of the United States, Afghanistan, Russia, India, China, and Japan. You'll see pomegranate in some royal and medical coats of arms.

HEALTH

Pomegranate contains a variety of chemicals that might have antioxidant effects. Some preliminary research suggests that chemicals in pomegranate juice might slow the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and possibly fight cancer cells.

PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS

(sn: Opuntia ficus)

Native to Mexico, the cactus plant has been naturalized throughout the Mediterranean basin.

It represents the most spectacular species of succulent plants, which are characterized by a shallow root system that permits rapid water uptake; a thick, waxy cuticle that prevents excessive water.

In the recorded history of the Old World, O. ficus-indica was certainly known at the beginning of the 16th century and it is believed that this species accompanied Columbus in his first return to Lisbon in 1493.

The fruit pulp is sweet, gelatinous and greenish, and there are numerous seeds in it.

The seeds are small, 4mm. in length. In general, this plant is very long-lived, and can live up to 80 years, although farms are cultivating crops for three years.

This majestic plant is the symbol of Sicily and Calabria in the South of Italy.

Unfortunately today, the plant that typifies the traditional Spanish landscape is nowhere to be seen in Andalucia, devastated, by a pest - the cochineal beetle.

Prickly pear cacti have been a common sight in the Greek landscape, However, it wasn’t until recently that chefs and experimenting cooks found interest in it.

Prickly pear in Turkish, "Mısır inciri", translates to “fig of Egypt,” but the name has little to do with the fruit’s origin

LEAVES

Botanically, the leaves are called cladodes. The thickness of these structures is to prevent water loss.

The cladodes are arranged facing the sun to make the most of the daylight hours. Thus, one can distinguish the cladodes formed in summer, that are oriented differently than those who grew up in winter.

FLOWERS

The flowers are solitary. They normally grow in the upper margins of the leaves and the emerging fruit. Flowers measure between 7 and 10cm. long, sessile, hermaphrodite and different colors: yellow, orange, red or white, they open during the day and close at night.

HEALTH

Opuntia species have been used for centuries as food resources and in traditional folk medicine for their nutritional properties and their benefit in chronic diseases, particularly diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

It used as a nutritional and pharmaceutical agent in various dietary and value-added products. It contained high levels of antioxidants (flavonoids, ascorbate ) and and phenolic acids.. The highest contents were found in dried peels.

The cultivar that presented the best fruit peel from an antioxidant point of view for preservation was Robusta.

CULINARY
With prickly pear shovels you can prepare delicious dishes. You can clean them, cook them and combine them with fresh cherry tomatoes to season bruschetta, use them as a condiment for omelettes or sauté them in a pan.
Prickly pear syrup
One of the best known recipes for preserving prickly pears concerns the classic preparation of jam
Chutney
Infusion
Prickly pear ice cream
Pancakes with prickly pear peels
Risotto
Prickly pear marzipan, a specialty of Martorana pastry (Sicilia)
ROCKET
(s.n. Eruca sativa)

Annual rustic herb with spicy and pleasant tasting leaves which may be eaten raw in salads or even cooked, which makes it more easily digestible.

Rocket grows wild in the northern Mediterranean up to 800m. above sea level and it prefers loose, sandy soil. Can also be grown in pots.

HEALTH

It is good for the Skin. Adding arugula leaves and seed oil into the diet can protect the skin from UV rays and its effects. This is because rocket is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It is also said to boost cell resilience and elasticity.

CULINARY

Rocket o arugula is delicious raw, and it can be used as a healthy add-on topping for pizza, tapas, sandwiches and wraps. It can be served as a side salad with nothing more than a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.It also makes an excellent base for more substantial salad recipes. Try adding cherry tomatoes, grilled chicken, and walnuts to arugula for a protein-packed, low-calorie meal.

Arugula’s leaf shape and taste also make it an interesting complement to citrus fruit and berry salads. It can be used as an alternative to basil to make hot or cold pesto. This recipe uses arugula, parmesan, and pine nuts with succulent results.

Pesto of rocket
ROSEMARY

It can be raised in any period of year. Especially in the Mediterranean Area quite often used in Turkey's Hatay cuisine. Omlet to bread can be used in any kind of meal. Even a small part of rosemary enough to make it feel its aroma.

It is needle-like, thin-leaved, always green plant. Purple flowering and shrub plant.

HEALTH
  • Rosemary includes vitamins B2, B1, B6, B3, B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K.
  • It reduces migraine, helps digestion, strengthens immunity and memory.
BEAUTY
Rosemary facial scrub

Rosemary exfoliant removes dead skin cells while leaving skin soft and silky smooth.

You Will Need: 1⁄2 cup each, ground oatmeal and ground almonds; 2 teaspoons ground rosemary; optional: pinch of powdered cinnamon. Stir together all ingredients and store in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid.

To Use: Combine a teaspoon or two of the rosemary scrub mixture with enough water (for oily skin) or milk (normal skin) to make a paste. For dry skin, mix with cream. Apply to your face with fingertips, rubbing gently in circular motions all over the face and throat areas. Rinse with lukewarm water.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

The Latin name "ROS MARINUS", which could mean "rose or sea-dew" actually derives its name from the Greek term " rhops" meaning shrub and "myrinos" meaning aromatic. Rosemary is one of the most well-known aromatic plants, used both in cooking and as a medicinal cure both by the Greeks and the Romans. It was supposed to increase memory and was therefore considered a symbol of fidelity by lovers and used in crowns worn by brides during their wedding celebrations. One legend narrates that a Rosemary bush offered shelter to the Virgin Mary during her flight from Egypt and that the flowers became blue after she had covered it with her cloak.This aromatic bush was an essential part of the Medieval herb garden and after the 16th century was also an ornamental plant artistically pruned to desired shapes. Recognized for its therapeutic vale from ancient times, it was burnt in rooms of sick people to purify the air and hung in law courts for protection against "prison fever " . During the plague epidemic it was attached to walking sticks or placed in pockets and sniffed when passing infected areas. Even today in some Mediterranean towns clothes are dried on rosemary to extract the oils which kill the moths.

Traditions

In some Easter processions, in Andalusia, as they pass through the streets, they burn rosemary to purify their penance. In some places there is also a path of rosemary through the streets where the procession passes, one of the examples is the Esperanza of Malaga.

in Andalusia, moreover, a number of recipes make an extensive use of Mediterranean herbs keeping with the Catholic tradition of abstinence from meat in Thursday's and Friday's, specially during the Holy Week.

CULINARY
Rosemary and sea salt focaccia

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a 10 by 15 inch cookie sheet and thoroughly coat the bottom with the oil. Stretch the dough on your cookie sheet (you’re looking for a thickness of about 3/4 of an inch). Next, create dimples in the dough with your fingertips and drizzle a bit more olive on the dough. Next, add fresh rosemary and sea salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and bake the focaccia for 20- 25 minutes, depending on how thin or thick your dough is. You’re looking for a golden brown top and a somewhat crunchy bottom.

SAGE

Sage is a staple herb in various cuisines around the world.

It has a strong aroma so it's typically used in small amounts.This green herb is available fresh , dried or in oil form. Sage eliminates inflammation and germs.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

From the Latin word salvus meaning health, it was appreciated from ancient times for its medicinal, almost magical qualities. A precise ritual accompanied harvesting in Imperial Rome including sacrifices, bathing of feet, special clothing and use of certain types of metal. The Chinese cultivated sage in their gardens after exchanging it for tea with Dutch traders, considering it to be beneficial to long life. Known as " a First Lady's typical whim", it is widely used in the kitchen.

CULINARY

Recommended for salads, meat and poultry stuffing, it can be mixed with other strong smelling herbs to aromatise butter and oil, and in the preparation of wines, cakes and desserts.

Thanksgiving turkey with orange and sage

Finely grate one orange and transfer it to a small bowl and chill until ready to use. Add salt, pepper, and chopped sage to zest and stir to combine. Place turkey, breast side down. Discard backbone or reserve for another use. With turkey skin side down, use a knife to score down the long oblong bone in center of breast. Turn turkey skin side up, rub zest mixture all over turkey and transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill 6–18 hours. Tuck sage sprigs and reserved orange slices in an even layer under turkey. Let sit at room temperature 30–60 minutes to air dry. Brush turkey with oil, add water to pan, and roast until skin is deep golden brown and crisp. Transfer turkey to clean cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.
Saltimbocca alla romana
"Ravioli", butter and sage
Sage in batter
Cake with sage and honey
LEGENDS

From the Latin word salvus meaning health, it was appreciated from ancient times for its medicinal, almost magical qualities. A precise ritual accompanied harvesting in Imperial Rome including sacrifices, bathing of feet, special clothing and use of certain types of metal. The Chinese cultivated sage in their gardens after exchanging it for tea with Dutch traders, considering it to be beneficial to long life. Known as " a First Lady's typical whim", it is widely used in the kitchen.

SAFFRON

Saffron is a spice made from the stigma of the flower of the saffron plant. The spice is used in cooking as a seasoning and as a food colouring. It is native to Southwest Asia. It is the world's most costly spice, and has been for a long time.

Saffron has a bitter taste and smells like hay. This smell is caused by the chemicals picrocrocin and safranal. Saffron also contains a dye, crocin, that gives food a rich golden colour. Saffron is a part of many foods from around the world, and is also used in medicine.The cultivated saffron is known as a perennial plant. It can not reproduce because the saffron crocus's purple flowers do not produce useful seeds. This means that reproduction needs human help. A corm lives for only one season, it is small brown ball up to 4.5 centimetres in diameter and are covered in thick parallel fibres.

After a period in summer known as "aestivation", some narrow green leaves come up from the ground. These can grow to up to 40 cm in length. In October, after most other flowering plants have released their seeds, the saffron grows itsbrightly-coloured flowers, which are coloured from light to dark purple. At the time of flowering, the plant is usually less than 30 cm in height. Inside each flower are three prongs, called the "style".

Saffron grows on the "Navelli Plain" in the Province of L’ Aquila and is considered by many to be a major product of the Italian Abruzzo region.

Today almost three-quarters of the world’s production of saffron is grown in Spain, specifically in the region of Castilla-La Mancha. Spanish saffron is prized for its high quality and commands twice the price of saffron produced in Iran.

TRADITIONS AND USES

The ancient Greeks and Romans prized saffron for its use as a perfume. They also used saffron as mascara, stirred saffron threads into their wines. Roman colonists took saffron with them when they settled in southern Gaul, where it was extensively cultivated until the AD 271. Saffron cultivation in Europe declined following the fall of the Roman Empire. Two centuries after their conquest of Spain, the Moors planted saffron throughout the southern provinces of Andalucia, Castile, La Mancha and Valencia.

During the Renaissance, Venice stood out as the most important commercial center for saffron.

CULINARY

Saffron is especially good when used in cooking seafood dishes such as bouillabaisse and paella. It is also used in risotto and other rice dishes. Try adding some to your next beef stew or tomato-based sauce. To make a wonderful marinade for fish, add saffron threads, garlic, and thyme to vinegar.

Risotto with saffron
Paellla

.

SEA COWPEA

Sea cowpea is a plant that grows close to the sea shore. Gokova and most are grown around Salt Lake in Turkey.

It is an annual plant that grows mainly on salty soils.

The main difference of sea cowpea from seaweed is that cowpea cannot survive in salty water for a long time. In other words sea cowpea lives on the shares of seas and lakes with salty water.

HEALTH

Sea cowpeas are a mineral rich plant, source of vitamin C. It is an antioxidant and accelerates metabolism.

ŞEVKETY BOSTAN

(s.n. Cnicus benedictus)

Because the plant had a reputation in Medieval Europe as a cure for the plague and "other diseases of melancholy," it also became known as holy thistle and St. Benedict's thistle.

Şevketi bostan is a plant species belonging to Southeast Asia and Mediterranean countries. It is a 60 centimeters tall, annual prickly plant. This plant has been used as an alternative medicine method in many areas in the past.

It blooms yellow flowers in August.

It strengthens memory, facilitates digestion and is useful for headaches.

In English is called "blessed thistle", in Italian "Cardo santo", in Spanish " cardo bendido", in Greek "ευλογημένος γαϊδουράγκαθο"

CULINARY

It's usually cooked in porridges, salads, soups of with scrambled eggs in Andalusia, Spain, where it is called tagarnina. In the Greek island of Crete a variety called "askolympros" (ασκόλυμπρος) or "goula" (γούλα) has its leaves eaten boiled and it's roots eaten boiled or fried by the locals.

In Italy it is used mainly in winter as a soup.

It is used a lot in Turkish cuisine
Şevket-i bostan with Lamb
HEALTH

Because the plant had a reputation in Medieval Europe as a cure for the plague and "other diseases of melancholy," it also became known as holy thistle and St. Benedict's thistle.

Today, blessed thistle is prepared as a tea and used for loss of appetite and indigestion; and to treat colds, cough, fever, bacterial infection and diarrhea. It is also used as a diuretic for increasing urine output, and for promoting the flow of breast milk in new mothers

SORREL

It is a perennial plant and grows in damp places.

Sorrel is rich in vitamin A, B, C, iron and phosphorus.This plant’s leaves are curved and white.

These leaves are eaten as salad and soup is also made.It usually lives for several years. Sorrel is useful for skin diseases.

CULINARY: Throughout eastern Europe, wild or garden sorrel is used to make sour soups, stewed with vegetables or herbs, meats or eggs. In rural Greece, it is used with spinach, leeks, and chard in spanakopita. In Albania, the leaves are simmered and served cold marinated in olive oil, or as an ingredient for filling byrek pies. In Armenia, the leaves are collected in spring, woven into braids, and dried for use during winter. The most common preparation is aveluk soup, where the leaves are rehydrated and rinsed to reduce bitterness, then stewed with onions, potatoes, walnuts, garlic and bulgur wheat or lentils, and sometimes sour plums.
STINGING NETTLE

Stinging nettle has been a staple in herbal medicine since ancient times. It prevents cancer.

It is beneficial for the health of hair and skin because of that it uses cosmetics and chemistry industry. If you use nettle shampoo , your hair looks stronger.

  • It includes vitamins A, C, K and also B vitamins.
  • It includes calcium , magnesium , potassium and sodium mineral
Nettles have always been used in cooking, boiled like spinach, added to soups, rice dishes, potatoes and gnocchi. Excellent in omelettes and in an infusion of mint leaves as a refreshing drink to replace tea. Due to their nutritional value, freshly boiled or dried nettles are an excellent food for chickens, rabbits and cows.
STRASBERRY TREE

Recent studies have emphasized the nutritional interest of the fruits of strawberry tree ((Arbutus unedo L.), a specie traditionally gathered in the Mediterranean region. Its Mediterranean habitat, elegant details of leaf and habit and dramatic show of fruit with flowers made Arbutus unedonotable in Classical Antiquity, when Pliny thought it should not be planted where bees are kept, for the bitterness it imparts to honey.

CULINARY

The fruits of the strawberry tree can be eaten fresh or preserved in jams, liqueurs and syrups. The jam is excellent for filling whole wheat tarts prepared and the whole fruit adds a little extra oomph to cakes, biscuits and sweet buns. With the arbutus you can also prepare a particular vinegar, to be used to dress salads and cruditées.

Strawberry tree honey is very rare and valuable. It has a fine and creamy consistency, with very fine crystals, when it is liquid an intense amber color that becomes lighter when honey solidifies.

HEALTH

Arbutus unedo's leaves have beenemployed in traditional and folkmedicine in the form of a decoction having the following properties: astringent, diuretic, antiseptic, tonic, and more recently, in the therapy of hypertension and diabetes.

Strawberry tree infusions are rich in antioxidants and tannins and can be used as a urinary antiseptic, while the decoction of strawberry tree leaves and roots can help to combat rheumatic pains.

The Italian Strawberry tree CORBEZZOLO

It is one of the Italian patriotic symbols: with its green leaves, its white flowers and its red berries it recalls the flag of Italy.

The Spanish Strawberry MODROÑO

No one seems to know exactly whythe bear and the strawberry tree are the city's icons except that there used to be many bears in the fields around Madrid, and the strawberry tree might actually be representative of the hackberry tree that once was in abundance around the city. Another theory is that following a 13th-century dispute over hunting rights on the land that was owned by the church, an agreement was reached that the church owned the soil, but the people of Madrid owned everything above the ground, namely game. Then, the symbol of Madrid was born -- a Bear (the church's emblem) sniffing a tree.

The Greek Strawberry tree "Arbutus Andrachne" κουμαριά

The Greek Strawberry tree is a small tree in the Arbutus genus that is native toGreece. This tree is known to hybridize naturally with the Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) which results in the hybrid Strawberry tree is Arbutus Andrachne.

The Turkey Strawberry tree KOCAYEMIŞ

Anatolia is one of the primary centers of origin of strawberry tree. Pomological and morphological characteristics of strawberry tree genotypes, naturally growing in natural flora of Northern Anatolia, were investigated in this study in 2008 and 2009.

THYME

Thyme is a Mediterranean herb.

It can destroy harmful organisms such as infectious bacteria. People can use the fresh leaves of thymein teas and in cooking. For example, thyme is especially used in meatball and meat dishes. Thyme includes calcium , magnesium minerals and vitaminsof K , B and C.

Ancient Greeks considered Thyme a symbol of courage and sacrifice. Tradition tells that Thyme was in the straw bed of the Virgin Mary and the Christ child. In the Middle Ages, ladies would embroider a sprig of Thyme into scarves they gave to their errant knights. At various periods in history, Thyme has been used to treat melancholy, reproductive system ailments, and to improve digestion. In the 18th century, it was recommended as a cure for a hangover.

Za' ther

Za' ther is a wild plant. In some places in Turkey it is called "black thyme". Zahter looks a bit like the thyme but on the contrary it has a more fresh scent a vibrant green color and long leaves.

  • It grows as a wild plant, mostly in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. It has a shrub-like appearance. For the first time in history , those who consume zahter are known as Phoenicians. Zahter is consumed as breakfast, salad and tea.
  • It protects kidneys, helps the nervous system, facilitates digestion.

3. THE ROLE AND SYMBOLISM OF NATURAL PRODUCTS IN ANCIENT GREECE

MARRIAGE AND THE SYMPOSIUM IN ANCIENT GREECE
MARRIAGE

In ancient Greece marriage constitutes one of the most important events in the life of two people, since it signifies their connection for life and creates the conditions for the obtention of descendants. Marriage is, in fact, both a ceremony and a celebration rich of symbolisms.

In a wedding a lot of wine is served, as well as sweets made of flour, honey and sesame, all of them symbols of abundance and fertility.

Fruits, called “catachysmata” are thrown to the newly married couple as they pass on a chariot through the city’s roads, heading for the groom’s house.

When the newlyweds arrive home, the groom’s mother throws fruits on their heads wishing them abundance, wealth and a happy life.

THE SYMPOSIUM

In ancient Greek the word “symposium” means “drinking together”. A symposium was a great event in the life of ancient Greeks, a gathering of friends eating, drinking wine, and discussing for amusement and spiritual uplifting.

The symposium was organized in the events of family or city celebrations, victories in athletic games and to honor the arrival or the departure of a friend. In a symposium as well as in marriage, apart from wine and food made of natural products, music played a very important role, too.

When the guests first arrived, the servants used to take off their shoes, wash and perfume their feet. It was not considered right to walk around the house wearing the sandals with which they used to walk outdoors.

Before eating the servants brought the guests water to wash their hands. During the first part of the symposium the guests were served mostly fish and poultry on low tables. They also used to eat meat and vegetables, usually served with a sauce made of oil, vinegar and honey. According to Aristophanes some sauces consisted mainly of "silphium" , a plant used as a spice in the antiquity, nowadays considered to be extinct.

Silphium

They used to eat reclined on the so-called “anaclintro”. Foreigners were honored by wearing crowns of leaves or flowers.

WINE

Wine was served with the desserts, and it was then the real symposium got started. Wine was served watered down. The proportion was 2 parts of wine to 3 parts of water, but the participants could still get drunk, because they continued to drink and talk all night. The islands of Lesvos and Samos, in north-eastern Greece, produced some of the finest Greek wines.

It was accompanied with fruits, nuts, grapes and sweets like bread-rolls made of honey and wheat or the “pyramids”, named after their shape. In Athens a very popular pie was “mytlotos”, made of cheese mixed with honey and garlic. Generally onions and garlic were also served as desserts. Bread was also used instead of napkins and usually it was formed into balls and it was thrown to the dogs.

The symbolic role of wine at symposiums, included two characteristic habits:
  • The libation in honour of Dionysus, god of the wine. They used to drink some wine with no water in it, and then pour a few drops while saying the god’s name.
  • Kottavos was a game between the men participating in the symposium. They aimed to a platter with the remaining wine in the bottom of their cup, pronouncing the name of a beloved person among them. If the wine fell in the platter, it was a favorable sign, which meant that their erotic pursuit would succeed.
"... as a gift to the poor heoffers no less than to the blessed, the joy of wine where every pain drowns".

4. MEDITERRANEAN PLANTS: TRADITIONS AND ART IN THE CULT OF THE DEAD

THE CULT OF THE DEAD

In Ancient Greece funeral rites were one of the most important duties. Everyone should respect and complete them in order to follow gods’ rules. Without these rites the man’s soul could not reach Hades.

Painter of Kleophrades 500-490 b.C., Red figure crater, Agrigento, Regional Archeological Museum

[On the crater, the last funeral rites are observed in homage to the hero Patroclo with dances scenes and libations.]

THE MITH OF PERSEPHONE

Demetra was the goddess of the harvest. She spent her days with Persephone, her beloved daughter. One day, Persephone was kidnapped by Hades, who was in love with her. Her mother wanted to take revenge, causing a series of famines on earth. For this reason, Zeus ordered Hades to restore Persephone to her mother.

Bottega del Pittore di Licurgo 360-340 b.C. Naples, National Archaeological Museum

[Persephone and Hades: crater from Altamura, red-figure vase with Underworld scenes.]

THE FRUIT OF THE HELL: THE POMEGRANATE

Hades let her go leading her to eat a pomegranate to celebrate her return. The young girl ate 6 beans. Every year for six months Persephone would stay in the Realm of the Dead and in the remaining six months Persephone would return to her mother. The pomegranate is linked to death and life, in the form of rebirth and fertility.

[Taranto – MArTA-This mosaic represents pomegranates.]
PERSEPHONE ON THE THRONE

Persephone is also called ‘The Goddess of smile’. The statue was recovered from a 4 meter deep well in Taranto in 1912. Due to the illegal art market, the statue ended up in Germany. Nowadays MArTa museum exhibits a scanned reproduction.

The goddess wears a chiton with a 6 button himation.

The statue without hands, according to scientists would have held the fruit of the underworld: the pomegranate.

[Kore of Euthydikos, 490-480, Athens, National Archaeological Museum]
Because of her enigmatic smile she is also called Persephone Gaia.
The statue originally had diadems and earrings denoted from the holes in the ears.
NOT ONLY POMEGRANATE
Fava beans: the bread of Hades

Fava beans are related to the cult of dead...

Pythagoras thought that legumes represented Hades’ door because they had a black spot on their flowers which represented ‘theta’. This is the first letter of Thanatos, which means death. It is said that Pitagora preferred to die rather than hide in a field of fava beans.

FUNERAL RITES INCLUDED....
  • The exposure of the corpse (próthesis) and the mourning of women (góos);
  • The washing of the body of the deceased;
  • The anointing of the body with oils made from essences;
  • The garment in a shroud was then exposed on a bed with the feet facing the door;
  • Crowns and bandages were put on it

The house was decorated with crowns (especially myrtle and laurel).

Myrtle was considered a symbol of love, happiness and life. It was also a typical plant of the Underworld due to the fact that it grew in Hades

AFTERLIFE
Wheat

The Greeks believed in an afterlife. For this reason, a coin was left in the mouth of the dead which represented the obol they had to pay to Charon.The treasury consists of 336 silver coins from various mints of Magna Grecia. Among the coins found there is one from Metaponto, a colony of Magna Grecia.

IV cent. b.C. Contrada Corti Vecchie (TA) Taranto, MArTA
WEATH

It symbolizes the cycle of life. The cereal represents the passage of the soul from the shade to the light. That’s why the cereal is buried underground, before it is born.

“Demetra”, who is the goddess of cereals and seeds, is represented with her forehead covered by a crown of ears of corn or with some grain in her hands.

Necropolis of Montesarchio 440 b.C. Palermo, Antonio Salinas Museum
ATHLETE'S TOMBS: THE ATHELE FROM TARANTO

Athleticism and banquets are the aspects exhibited in a more explicit way

Probably lived in Taranto in the fifth century b.C., he was a champion of many Panathenaic Games. HIS DISCOVERY 9th December 1959, via Genova 9 Taranto..
The sarcophagus of the athlete

Theories concerning his death: possible arsenic poisoning At his death he was placed in a monumental sarcophagus, burying him with his four Panathenaic amphorae.

The bone structure, perfectly intact at its discovery, made it possible to understand that it was a man in his 30s, about 170 cm tall.
In August 2008 the athlete from Taranto was exhibited in Beijing during the Olympic Games.
PANATHENAIC AMPHORA

It contained the sacred oil that was given as a prize to the athletes who won the panathenaic games, sports competitions in honour of Athena. The inscription "ton Athenethen athlon" (a prize from Athens) is relevant. It reveals the athlete’s participation in the chariot race. Possibly the athlete of Taranto did not experience the competition for himself and he received the amphora as the owner of the winning chariot.

THE SYMPOSIUM IN ART

There are some vases that recall the symposium, that took place in the “Andron” and in which only men could take part, talking about political and philosophical issues... A man should choose the topic of the banquet.

“...I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; to take my myrrh with my spice; my wax with my honey; my wine with my milk. Take meat, O friends; take wine, yes, be overcome with love.” From the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs)
USE OF OIL

Fragrant oils were used for body care and beauty , but also to incense the dead. The most used were: olive, rose, iris, marjoram and apricot oils. A particular oil made from rose, myrrh and cinnamon was very famous in Athens. Oil was then removed with the strigil, a metal tool, used especially by athletes after a physical effort to remove the sweat.

OLIVE OIL

It had a fundamental role and was a sacred element. Oil had different uses: it was spilled in the Panathenaic amphoras given to athletes as a prize, like ointment to keep the skin clean, to produce cosmetics and finally it was used by the athletes in battle. Furthermore olive was a symbol of “good omen” like the palm...

THE PALM

Solar plant sacred to Apollo: it was reported that Latona delivered the God of light while she was leaning against the stem of two palms. Also the goddess of victory, Nike, was represented with a palm and a crown of laurel.

[Kotyle of corhintian imitation (IV-V sec.a.C.), on the body, chain of facing palmettes. Taranto, MArTA].
AIACE PREPARES HIMSELF FOR SUICIDE
1. [Anphora with black figures of Exechias, 540 b.C. Boulogne-sur-Mer, Château Musée. You can see a palm tree on the left.] 2.Aryballos MacMillan, London, British Museum. Decorative elements with palms and lotus blossoms.]
THE LAUREL AS A SYMBOL OF GLORY

Sacred to Apollo since Daphne, the nymph with whom the god fell in love, was transformed into laurel. In the tombs objects depicting this plant have been found, as the laurel crowns were a symbol of good omen for the deceased. A sacred plant, symbol of wisdom, glory, honor : a laurel crown girded the foreheads of the winners in the pitic or Delphi ‘s Games.

[Aryballos MacMillan, London, British Museum. Decorative elements with palms and lotus blossoms.]
CRATER

The crater was used to mix water and wine during the symposium, because only Dionysus could drink pure wine, without the risk of losing control of himself. The drink was flavored with cloves and cinnamon.

[Crater with red figures apulo a volute, inv. 8264, Crowned with grapevines and vines, “Dioniso was born from the thigh of Zeus”, received by the gods of Olympus,400- 380 a.C.]
Dionysus is the Greek god of wine and grapevine, also called Bacchus. The son of Zeus and Semele. His nickname is “born twice”.
PRIESTESS OF THE SALT MARSHES
Found near a Komas, a Greek village where the Tarantini of that age used to collect salt.
COSMETIC

From the Greek KOSM TIKOS it can be translated: “what has the power to make beautiful” or “able to decorate”. Greek women, especially in Athens and Corinth, were very attentive to the care of their aesthetic aspect to arouse male desire.

  • The blue, green and light blue eyeshadow was obtained from the pulverisation of minerals and plant substances;
  • the brows were darkened by antimony and coal dust; the lips were coloured with the red extracted from the oricello;
  • the skin was made luminous by biacca and quicklime;
  • honey, sugar and lemon were the basis for body hair removal;
  • in mourning, women were not allowed to use make up and valuables.
For the care of their hair, instead, they used olive oil, honey, animal fat, ash or dung. For hairstyles other tools were used. For example metal nets, cords, ivory combs. The richest ladies had mirrors, often made with copper and they were highly ornate.
In Roman times the "strigil" was used by females for body hair removal.
PURPLE

Purple was obtained with a great effort from the murex, a mollusk.

How?

It was necessary to separate the murex from the shell; extract the liquid contained in the mollusk;do a treatment of maceration and slow cooking. Only aristocratic people could use purple.

5. VEGETABLES IN BYZANTIUM

In Byzantium vegetables and legumes were very popular. Many people grew vegetables. It was the cheapest food and were eaten raw. Both rich and poor people used to eat lettuce and spinach, chickpeas and broad beans along with wine and olives.

Rich people used to eat vegetables and legumes as a side dish, while poor people used to eat them as a main dish every day.

Christian monasteries were, and still remain, famous for their healthy and tasty cooking. Thanks to the long periods of religious fast monks developed cooking based mainly on oil, vegetables and legumes. Onions were Byzantines’ favorite vegetables along with carrots preferably baked, which were sold by street vendors.Bread and wine always go with all kinds of vegetables and legumes.

6. SAYING GOODBYE TO OUR DECEASES WHEN FOOD CELEBRATES LIFE

In Spain, gastronomy and funerary rituals still go together in the countryside traditional zones.

Gastronomy plays an important role: chewing is survival. It reminds us that we are still alive. It has been observed that death opens the appetite, also the sexual one. The logical reason? Until the eighteenth century corpses were buried in less than 24 hours. When several people, who had suffered catalepsy, were buried alive the wake time went up to 48 hours. Nearby people offers to cook while the rest watches over the corpse. Formerly someone went door to door saying: "I come to collect the dead man's food” because everyone was going to the funeral. Everything is homemade and, although there is nothing established, not every food is good to give; depending on the relationship. This has to do too with the retiring time at home for mourning. The mourners, until recently, should show that they were so sorrowful that they could not go out even to look for food. The neighbours sympathized with them taking in charge to provide for them. Social networks, before, were this.

"In Lights of Bohemia" (1924), Valle-Inclán mentions the appearance of a drunk in a wake, which is still a very common situation

What is eaten and drunk in Spanish home wakes varies according to the region but the loss of a loved one is swallowed together with classic dishes as tripe, chicken soup or ratatouille.

GALICIA
In Pontevedra people bring pots full of tripe with chickpeas. They are accompanied with alcoholic drink, always. In fact, Galician wakes end up becoming parties. It is also usual that the menu offered after funeral, in church, is repeated in the home wakes, "a parva". A parva consists of chocolate, cookies, bread and sweet wine.
In Lugo, the children take to the cemetery rosaries made with chestnuts cooked with the skin -known as 'zonchos'- It is said that for every chestnut the child eat, a soul leaves purgatory.

In Vilanova de Arousa we find sardines with bread accompanied by homemade brandy. After the traditional prayers, the repetitive laments and the exclamations of pain over the beloved deceased, the younger ones entertained themselves in games in which the losing girls has to kiss the deceased.

Castilla La Mancha

Duelos y quebrantos -mourning and breakdown-, that appears in Don Quixote, is supposed to be the result of the desperation of some mourners which had no time to prepare food and mixed leftovers so that everyone in the house could have dinner. The most recurrent ingredients are the chorizo, the bacon, and the eggs.

Extremadura

Sierra de Montánchez and Tamuja are two little villages between Cáceres, Trujillo and Mérida. It was usual there, that in the houses where the dead person was watched, chicken orchicken soups were offered, as well as some stew, soups of "buñuelillos", soup of cachuela and candies.

Andalucía

The passage to death, here, has the opposite treatment: there is no agape served. You can’t eat, either during the wake, after the funeral or even on the first anniversary mass.

The Sicilian dead continue to live among sugar, almond paste: Martorana fruits on All Souls' Day,

In Sicily (Italy)dead continue to live among sugar and almond paste. On All Souls' day is experienced as a real day of celebration to be celebrated with banquets and exchange of gifts.

Marzipan prickly pears and other fruits are prepared on All Soul's Dayin Sicily. The most commonly accepted story behind the Sicilian marzipan tradition begins in Palermo at the Convent of the Martorana. As a prank on the Archbishop's Easter visit, the nuns created dozens of marzipan fruits and painted them to appear like real fruit. Then they strung these from trees in the cloister garden, and the Archbishop believed that the trees had a miraculous fruit-bearing season.

But the story that combines these sweet fruits of real pasta with the on All Souls’ Day is another.

In the convent of the Martorana there was the "wheel of the exposed" where orphans and unwanted children were put to be entrusted to the care of the nuns. One day, Eloisa Martorana, the founder of the convent of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio, invented a dessert in the shape of colored fruits made with almond paste to give to the liveliest children who proved to be better.

On Eloisa's death the nuns decided to keep this tradition alive and on the morning of November 2, they found at the foot of the sunbeds of the orphans of the baskets full of marzipan fruit saying that during the night Eloisa had come to visit them to make the best happy with her sweet fruits.

So, even today on the day of the commemoration of the deceased, grandparents and parents bring to the children the gifts left to them by the dead on the night of All Souls which stand out the sweets of the dead such as martorana fruit or marzipan fruit.

7. PLANTS IN ART

Decorative uses of plants date back to at least ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, more than 4,000 years ago. These civilizations included images of plants and other motifs on the walls of their temples and tombs.

Later, in Cretan, Greek and Roman Art, figures of plants and trees were often used to decorate ceramics or coins. However, the real botanical art and illustration began in ancient Greece. This is when people began using illustrations to identify plants and flowers. Pliny the Elder, who worked in early first century AD, studied and recorded plants.

So, In the past, illustrations of plant life were used by physicians, pharmacists, botanical scientists and gardeners for identification, analysis, and classification Over the centuries, artists have captured the rich symbolism of flowers, tracing their changing meanings.

From the inception of Western painting, artists have depicted plants, flowers, and trees in images ranging widely in subject and purpose—from devotional images of saints and scenes from the scriptures, to portraits, still lifes and subjects from secular history and mythology.

The use of botanical imagery in painting proliferated especially in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as artists became increasingly interested in the realistic depiction of objects from the natural world.

THE PREHISTORIC AEGEAN
THE PREHISTORIC AEGEAN CRETE AND THE CYCLADES
EATING HABBITS IN PREHISTORIC CRETE 7000 - 4900 b.C.
1. Cells from Katsambas, near Herakleion, around 4900 b.C - 2. Carbonized wheat (triticum aestivum) from Knossos, 7000-6500 b.C.
MARINE ENVIRONMENT CYCLADES
Flying-fish. Fresco. Phylakopi, Melos mid. 16th c. BC
Prehistoric Thera suptropical landscape
PREHISTORIC THERA- PLANTS
Lilies, Papyroi, Crocus
EATING HABBITS
Snails, carbonized fava and millet Wheat and reeds as decorative motifs
EATING AND DRINKING IN STYLE
Grapes and sesame as decoration of a jar A fine Prochus for wine
NATURE IN EVERIDAY RITUAL
Myrtle and "Adorant" with myrtle on hear head
Crocus and Lilies in cerimonial life
The Wall Paintings of Thera: The Saffron Gatherers, circa 1600 BCE, Prehistoric Thera Museum, Santorini, Greece.

Saffron is one of the most delicate and interesting ingredients to cook with and has been since the times of prehistoric Thera. In this fresco, two women gather the plant from the rocky landscape. There seems to be a difference in age and status between them. On the left, there is an older woman, possibly the teacher. She gathers the saffron using only one hand while holding a basket. On the left we see a younger woman, the apprentice, using both hands. Because of the stern expression on the teacher’s face, she is probably reprimanding her apprentice for her sloppy technique.

PLANTS IN FAMOUS PAINTINGS
THE FORGET-ME-NOT

One of the best paintings, with an abundance of plants, is the Pre-Raphaelite painting ‘Ophelia’. The scene depicted is from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act IV, Scene vii, in which Ophelia, driven out of her mind when her father is murdered by her lover Hamlet, falls into a stream and drowns.

The forget- me-nots are found floating in the water alongside her figure. An absolute classic, the rendering of the plants is up to a botanical standard. The very many varieties of flower that float alongside Ophelia’s body may be read as portents of her melancholy fate. The prominent red poppy floating on the water near her right hand represents sleep and death. The weeping willow tree, nettles and daises, respectively stand for love, pain and innocence.

"Ophelia", Sir John Everett Millais, 1851–2, Tate Britain, London‎
Ophelia drowns in the flowers of a true masterpiece
ASPARAGUS
Still Life with Asparagus, Adriaen Coorte, 1697, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Still Life with Strawberries, Gooseberries and Asparagus, Adriaen Coorte, The National Gallery, London

The Dutch Golden Age master Adriaen Coorte, a minimalist of still life, focused on asparagus with obsessive care. Little is known about this late 17th century painter, who nonetheless left a compelling series of still lives, variations of the same theme of the bunch of asparagus. Placed obliquely, almost always at the end of a stone slab or on a table, the vegetables create an illusionistic, unstable balance amplified by the orbit of the dark and empty background.

Louis XIV of France dubbed asparagus the 'king of vegetables', which might be one of the many reasons this venerable vegetable appears in so many still life of the era. In the Netherlands, the widely admired asparagus was associated with luxury, prosperity and abundance – its presence in Dutch still life thought to be symbolic of the fruits of paradise. Meanwhile, the seventeenth-century herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper, wrote that asparagus 'stirs up lust in man and woman', which is why it may have a further symbolic suggestion of virility and desire.

A Bundle of Asparagus , 1880 painting by Édouard Manet, Wallraf-Richartz Museum di Colonia.

A Bundle of Asparagus was commissioned by the art collector Charles Ephrussi for 800 francs. On receiving the work he gave the artist 1000 francs instead and so Manet decided to paint a smaller second work now known as A Sprig of Asparagus. He sent this second work to Ephrussi with a note reading "There was one [sprig] missing in your bundle"

A sprig of Asparagus, Edouard Manet, 1880, Musée d'Orsay Paris

The "mother" canvas was painted on a black background, rather like the Dutch still lifes of the17th century. Here, Manet creates a very subtle interplay between the mauves and greys of the asparagus and the colour of the marble on which it lies. He paints freely, and purely for the pleasure, demonstrating in this spontaneous work his formidable skill, his perfect taste and his humour. "This is not a still-life like the others", wrote Georges Bataille, "although still, it is, at the same time, lively".

With a bit of esprit de finesse, Manet’s asparagus can allude to an erotic object, and the two golden-yellow strings tying the bouquet look like wedding rings. Manet looked admiringly at dutch painting from the 600s.. Among the painters he admired we meet Adriaen Coorte (1665c.-1707c.), the still lifes specialist who painted asparagus several times.

HOLLYHOCK
Fiori nel chiostro – Eugenio Gignous (1877)

Eugenio Gignous (Milan 1850- Stresa 1900) devoted himself mainly to landscape paintings, creating scenes characterized by enchanting atmospheres and undefined contours.

The hollyhock is, however, the real protagonist of this painting and, in the 19th century flowers language, it symbolized, fertility and feminine ambition. These meanings are contrasting the subjects of the artwork.

LAUREL
PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG MAN -GIOVANNI ANTONIO BOLTRACCIO

Giovanni Antonio Boltraccio (Milan 1467-1516) was one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s most talented student. He was able to incorporate his lessons espacially in the field of portaiture. Starting from the last decade of 1400s, the lombard artist realized some portaits which exalted the psychology of the characters. One of these, was this portrait which presents some resemblance with Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Musico”. Boltraffio painted the young man from the waist up, with an idefinite background, with a psychological and idealized tone at the same time. It is an altarpiece for poet Gerolamo Casio’s family chapel, in Bologna in 1500. The portrait, is influenced by the painting of Perugino and of Venice as we can see from the sitter’s position just off centre and the clear palette. The sitter was identified as Casio himself at an unspecified time in history and a laurel wreath and scroll containing his poems were added to it. In the classical culture, laurel (plant sacred to the god Apollo) symbolized glory and wisdom.

ORANGE
" San Sebastiano",Dosso Dossi, About 1524, Pinacoteca di Brera -Milan

The artist represented San Sebastiano tied to a tree and pierced by arrows. But obviously the most important detail is precisely the oranges, which are fruits linked to the figure of Mary, as a symbol of purity, or even to the figure of Christ. In this case, however, it represents an allusion to Sebastian's righteousness and faith.

GRAPEVINE

Painting: Lo scherno di Cam Artist: Bernardino Luini Date: About 1515-1517 Pinacoteca di Brera (Milan)

The scene is set near Mount Ararat, where the artist created a Lombard countryside. In the foreground, many medicinal plants characteristic of that area are depicted. The grape vine is very significant. It’s usually a sign of prosperity and joy but in this case there are Christological references. In fact, Noè's drunkenness represents the wine drunk by Jesus.

BORAGE

In the work "Lo scherno di Cam" painting by Bernardino Luini, the artist has set the story in an imaginary scenario with fantastic buildings. The plants are also described in detail and borage is obviously recognizable among them. This plant was represented probably because its name is connected to the world of wool producers and traders. Borage derives from the Latin “borra”, meaning a rough woolen fabric.

"Lo scherno di Cam", Artist: Bernardino Luini, Date: About 1515-1517, Pinacoteca di Brera (Milano)
BLACK MULBERRY

Painting: Fruttivendola, Artist: Vincenzo Campi Date: about 1590,Pinacoteca di Brera (Milan)

There are some allegories in this painting referring to the Autumn and one of the four elements (the Earth) considering the huge amount of fruit that Campi decided to put in it. It has been released during the Counter-Reformation period so this feature could be a way to admonish the moderation of food ingestion. Campi dedided to add the black mulberry (blackberry) in this work because it was a symbol of wisdom, patience and diligence during the Renaissance.
POMEGRANATE

Simone Peterziano was born in Bergamo in 1540 and was a pupil of Tiziano and the master of Caravaggio. His works are characterized by simple compositions and great attention to preparatory drawing.

The painting ‘’Venere e Cupido con due satiri in un paesaggio’’ is one of the few secular paintings made by the artist. The work wants to celebrate the generating powers of nature and the powers of carnal love. Venus sleeps with his child Cupid while two satyrs ( personification of lust) annoy her. The scene is set in a natural landscape in which stands out a small detail of still life, in the lower right corner where some pomegranates appear.

’Venere e Cupido con due satiri in un paesaggio’ , Simone Peterziano, 1570
OLIVE TREE
Resurrection of Christ between Saints Jerome, John the Baptist and two offerers." Giovanni Cariani, 1520 Oil painting on canvas, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan. The olive branch is a symbol of peace and Resurrection.
"Prickly pears", Renato Guttuso, 1985

In the field of figurative arts, the prickly pear, with its bright colors, is recurrent in figurative and neorealist works; in fact, it appears in works by Renato Guttuso, Antonino Leto, Giuseppe Migneco, etc. Often in the artistic representation of a " prickly pear shovel" seems to feel the juicy and pungent sweetness of the colored fruits and its intoxicating flavor.

ROSE

The rose has pride of place in Salvador Dali 1907 painting “Meditative Rose”. The painting itself is reminiscent of a natural Om symbol hanging against the sky above a desolate landscape. The rose is historically a symbol of love and desire, and here it is depicted floating above two lovers who are dwarfed by the giant rose

"Meditative rose", 1958, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres

8. FROM HARVEST TO TRANSFORMATION

Laboratory

In the chemistry laboratory of the high school "Liceo Aristosseno" of Taranto

Recipes with herbs from Greek nature

The basic ingredients of the following recipes are some of the most popular plants and herbs of the Mediterranean land, such us chamomile, linden, lemon balm, oregano, Krokos Kozanis (Greek red saffran), Chios mastic etc., used for several centuries from the Greek.

DRINKS WITH HERBS
GREEK LEMONADE WITH VERBENA A refreshing drink to enjoy during the summer. This lemonade does not resemble the traditional version of the well-known lemonade. The herb we will use is the verbena. INGREDIENTS: 1 lt of water, ½ cup of lemon juice, ½ cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of hash verbena. METHOD: Mix the ingredients in a bowl and put it in the fridge for 3 hours. Strain the herbs and serve the lemonade with ice cubes.
DRINK WITH HERBS AND FRUITS The intensity of the fruits combined with the herbs makes an astonishing result. For this drink, we will use a variety of herbs. INGREDIENTS: 2 golden apples, 2 kiwis, 3 table-spoons of mixed herbs (marjoram, chamomile, dittany, traditional Greek tea), 1 cinnamon stick. METHOD: Place the fruits in a pot (sliced in four) and boil them until they soften. Strain them and add the herbs to the mix. After that, boil them all together for five minutes and finally re-strain them. This drink can be consumed both hot and cold
LEMONADE WITH KROKOS KOZANIS, CARDAMOM AND ORGANIC HONEY A refreshing lemonade with the unique krokos Kozanis (Greek red safron), known for its anti-aging, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. INGREDIENTS: 1 cup of brown sugar, ½ cup of organic honey, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of lemon juice, 1½ tablespoons green cardamom, 2 tablespoons Krokos Kozanis in powder. METHOD: Make a syrup by dissolving the honey with the sugar in water, over low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Simmer for another minute until the sugar and honey are completely dissolved. Turn off the heat, add the cardamom and the Krokos Kozanis and let it cool. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Finally, drain the syrup and store in a sterile bottle in the refrigerator. To make the lemonade, pour 3 table-spoons of syrup into a glass. Add some mint leaves and ice cubes and fill with cold water or soda
GREEK ICE TEA WITH LEMON BALM AND YOGURT

A refreshing tea, ideal for the spring and summer. The herb we will use is the lemon balm, which makes the drink sweet.

INGREDIENTS: 2 cups of linden tea, 2 teaspoons of honey, 1 cup of yogurt.

METHOD: Put the ingredients in a mixer, blend them and then serve the tea with ice cubes.

COUGH SYRUP WITH EUCALYPTUS

INGREDIENTS: an orange, cut into 2.5-cm thick piece, a piece of fresh 5 cm thick ginger cut into cubes, 2 tablespoons of sweet peppercorns, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 table spoons of water, 2 tablespoons of eucalyptus oil, 1 cup of raw organic honey.

METHOD: Mix the first 6 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Squeeze the mixture with a wooden spoon to release the juices from the or-

ange and lemon and slightly dissolve the spices and eucalyptus. Apply lid and allow the mixture to simmer over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes. Remove the lid, add the and honey and stir until dissolved. Remove the mixture from heat for 10 minutes and finally stir once more before straining. Store the syrup in a glass jar. We recommend sipping 1-2 table spoons several times a day.

HEALING CREAMS
OREGANO TINCTURE This tincture has a powerful antioxidant and detoxifying action, fights the cough and helps with digestion. INGREDIENTS: Some fresh oregano, alcohol. (The quantities depend on the quantity of the tincture we want to pre-pare). METHOD: Chop the oregano and fill the jar to the top. Add alcohol to the top of the jar and close it well. Leave the jar in a shady place for 10-15 days and the tincture is ready! Finally, strain it and store it in a bottle. It is recommended to use 8-10 drops (dis-solved in water) 3 times a day. Not recommend-ed during pregnancy.
CREAM FOR BURNS WITH CHIOS MASTIC: 30 gr of bee's wax, 60 ml of organic olive oil, 4-5 pieces of Chio's mastic. METHOD: Put all ingredients in a pot and let them melt over medium heat. Stir continuously un-til they become a homogeneous mixture. Be careful, the mixture should not boil. While it is warm and liquid, put it in a glass jar and let it cool. It lasts for a long time without being tainted. FACE CREAM WITH CHIOS MASTIC INGREDIENTS: 260 gr almond oil, 200 gr pure wax, 100gr cocoa butter, 100 gr Chios mastic, 250 gr Kerkyra butter. METHOD: Heat the almond oil in low fire. Blend the mastic in the blender after having frozen it in the fridge for three hours. Add the mastic powder to the almond oil, and then add the cocoa butter and the Kerkyra butter. When the ingredients melt, add the wax and mix them together until the ingredients form a cream. Pull the mixture from the stove and let it cool down. Store it in a glass jar. The cream can last up to one year. Apply a small amount with gentle movements on the face and neck, every morning and night
ANTI ACNE TONER INGREDIENTS: 3⁄4 glass of water, 1 branch of rosemary, 1 tablespoon of black pepper, 2 table spoons of apple vinegar. METHOD: Add the pepper and the rosemary in boiling water. When half of the water’s volume is vaporized, pull the water from the stove and let it cool. Then, transfer it in a clean bottle and add the apple vinegar. Apply the toner every morning and night.
MOISTURIZING AND RESTORATIVE HAIR MASK: 1 egg yolk, 1/3 cup of olive oil, 2 table-spoon of honey. METHOD: Beat the egg yolk in a deep plate. Add the olive oil and the honey and mix all the ingredients. Apply the product on dry or damp hair massaging the scalp and spreading the mask from the roots to the tips. Immediately wrap the hair in a towel, for 30’. For shampooing, firstly apply a dose of shampoo without wetting the hair, so that the ingredients’ oils wash out entirely (if the hair gets wet, a layer of oils that makes the shampoo slip and not clean the hair properly will be created). Then, wash the hair as usually.
CALENDULA OINTMENT : a fist full of calendula petals, 100ml olive oil, 40gr bee wax. METHOD: Pour the olive oil into a small pot and heat it, without it burning (without the heat reach-ing 90°C). Add the calen-dula petals and continue mixing it for about 20’, until the mixture obtains a slight orange color. Pull the mixture from the stove and cover it, letting it rest all night. The day after, strain the calendula oil. Then, warm up the bee wax using ben-mari and steadily add the oil, mixing until the mixture becomes one and starts having a salve-lke texure. Wait for it to cool and then transfer the salve in a clean jar. It can be preserved for 12 months in the fridge.
CLEANER FOR GENERAL PURPOSES 1-2 cups of fresh leaves (basil, mint, sage, rosemary), Peels of citrus fruit (lemons, oranges, lime), 4 cups of white vinegar. METHOD: Put all the ingredients in a big jar and mix them with a spoon. Then, when the mixture has become one, put it in a spray bottle. Use the cleaner on every surface like every ordinary cleaner. KITCHEN CLEANER 5 Sage leaves, Lavender leaves, Vinegar, Green soap trims. METHOD: Let the leaves soak in water for the night. After that, drain the water and add vinegar until the leaves are completely covered. Then, add the green soap trims, mix the ingredients and the mixture is ready. Use it in order to clean smooth sur-faces in the kitchen

CLOSET PERFUME: Dried sage, Lavender, Basil, Rosemary leaves. METHOD: Choose one type of leaves from the aforementioned. Put in a plastic bag and seal it tightly so the leaves will not fall out. Put the plastic bag in the closet in order to protect the clothes from clothes moths.

9. DIRECT OBSERVATIONS IN THE FIELDS DURING OUR MOBILITIES
1st WORK MEETING "LICEO ARISTOSSENO", Taranto, 23-27 october 2018
2nd WORK MEETING "PEIRAMATIKO SCHOLIO PANEPISTIMIOU ATHINON" Athens, 8-12 April 2019
3rd WORK MEETING " GARIP ZEYCAN YILDIRIM FEN LISESI ", SAMSUN, 30/09/2019 - 04/10/2019
4th WORK MEETING ON LINE "Taranto, Malaga ("IES LA ROSALEDA"), Athens, Samsun" 27 January 2021
A dutiful thanks to the Headmasters of the four participating schools, to the project coordinators, to the tutor teachers and above all to the participating students who had to overcome the difficulties that have arisen in order to complete this experience and who with their work have managed to produce this Manual.
Thanks to Erasmus plus!
Created By
Maria Mazziotta
Appreciate