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Monday, December 26, 2016

ORTIGAS - NETTLES WITH APICIUS RECIPE FOR NETTLE OMELETE

Using Gloves to Cut off Thorns
Photo by: Lord-Williams
hortiga, OCast fortiga, hortiga, L. Urtiga dioica, Fr. Ortie dioïque or grande ortie, Eng. big-sting nettle or stinging nettle. It was the symbol of courage and envy. Jane Shore, mistress of Edward IV of England, is said to have been “as strong as nettle”. In flower language it means, “one is spiteful.” This plant reached its height in popularity with the Romans who cultivated it around army camps.

Nettle is mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible (Isa 55:13) as this sting plant with hairy leaves that flourished in fallow fields of Palestine but it does not appear in Sephardi recipes. Avicenna cited it in powders, syrups, pills and ointments. It is claimed that in Andalusian cookery there is a nettle soup recipe passed down from the Romans. Nettle soups were drunk until the 12 C. but later lost their popularity. They were considered better than asparagus, especially in spring when at their best.

Frying the Omlete
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Romans consumed nettles to disintoxicate the liver after over-eating. They brought this custom to Spain where, over the centuries, it has been used in batters and soups. The seeds are added to cakes for flavor. The leaves are eaten, cooked or steamed, similar to spinach. The juice is used in infusions good for diabetes and in shampoos to prevent loose of hair. It is an antiseptic and stimulant. Previously it was used as an antigen and detergent. It has been thought that the juice from the leaves stops gangrene and cancer. Today it is drunk as an infusion to relieve chronic bladder irritation and as a pain-reliever on painful or arthritic joints. Nettle has been used to help nursing mothers produce milk.

Unfortunately, there are no recipes for nettles in the medieval Spanish texts consulted but Apicius explains that they should be collected on sunny days during the zodiac sigh of Aries and used against ills. .

[Apicius/Flower. 1958:III:XVII:86-87:IV:III:36:110-111; ES: Gutiérrez. Jun 1, 98; Gázquez. Cocina. 2002:118; Villena/Calero. 2002:23a; and Villena/Navarro. 1879:44]

NETTLES OMLETE ADAPTED FROM FLOWER'S TRANSLATION OF APICIUS' IV:III:36 PATINA URTICARUM CALIDA ET FRIGIDA, pp 110-111

Ingredients[1]

Simple and Delicious
Photo by: Lord-Williams
½ lb nettles[2]

½  tsp white pepper[3]
½  c liquamen[4]
¼  c oil[5]
4 eggs

Garnish 

white pepper

Preparation

Wash nettles and strain. Dry them on a board and chop. Add pepper and liquamen. Heat oil in a frying pan.  When boiling, add nettles. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.  

Select another frying pan and grease. Beat eggs and add them to the pan. Stir while pouring in the nettle mixture. Remove from heat and cover. When the eggs have coagulated, sprinkle with ground pepper and serve hot or cold.


[1] The quantities have been adjusted and divided in half or more  to make an omelette for 4 persons.
[2] Spinach was used instead as nettles were not in season at the time of this publication.
[3] The recipe states 10 "scruples." One scruple is 20 grams or almost two cups.
[4] The recipe calls for 2 cyathi of liquimen. One cyathus equals one ladle. One vegetable bullion cube dissolved in 1 c broth was used instead.
[5]The recipe calls for 6 oz oil which is 2 cups of olive oil

APICIUS' IV:III:36 PATINA URTICARUM CALIDA ET FRIGIDA, p 110


FLOWER'S TRANSLATION INTO ENGLISH, p 111




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