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Celery’s Sibling

The story of celeriac

With its gnarled head and earthy aroma, celeriac is a food for grown-ups, eaten all over Turkey at tables high and low. Berrin Torolsan’s traditional recipes make it a taste that’s easy to acquire

The other day I overheard the Turkish comedian Metin Akpınar say on a chat show how as a teenager he hated celery. ‘Days when celery was on the menu, I didn’t even want to come into the house. I couldn’t bear the smell. Yet now, if I found celery-scented eau de cologne, I’d be delighted to use it.’

I share the same sentiments, more or less. I find myself enjoying the flavour of celery more and more with each passing year. And the same goes for its sibling celeriac, which is simply a form of celery bred, probably in the 16th century, to have a bulbous lower stem.

As celery’s Latin name, Apium graveolens, indicates, it is powerful-smelling. The pronounced aroma of apiol, the essential oil which gives celery and celeriac their distinctive peppery piquancy, has interested people from very early on, both as a flavouring and for its medicinal properties. Mummies have been found in Egypt with bouquets of lotus flowers arranged with the dark-green foliage of wild celery. Dioscorides and Pliny both praised the plant’s healing properties. Celery was an ingredient of garum, the Roman condiment prepared with fermented fish and aromatic herbs, and the celebrated Roman gourmet Apicius gives recipes for celery-falvoured sauces and dips. It is difficult to tell if celery was already in cultivation at the time or was only gathered from the wild.

Although commonly regarded as a root vegetable, like the potato, carrot or turnip, the bulbous part of the celeriac plant is not actually the root but a corm, the base of the leaf stems, out of which modest roots will grow…

Recipes in this article include Celery Soup, a joy on cold winter days, celeriac braised in olive oil, served traditionally as a second course, after a hot dish, but an excellent starter, too, and Tangy Stew with Celeriac – if the meat is cooked beforehand, it takes just 15 minutes to prepare. More cookery features

To read the full article, purchase Issue 41

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Issue 41, 2009 Inside Istanbul’s Grand Hammams
£8.00 / $10.15 / €9.47
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 41
  • The Poetry Within

    An antiquarian’s deliciously distressed house in the Aegean was Berrin Torolsan’s first inspiration for the text of a new book on Turkish interiors. In this extract from At Home in Turkey, with photographs by Solvi dos Santos, she is captivated by a low-key restoration.

  • Joy in a Bottle

    On the tiny island of Bozcaada (Tenedos), a mere speck in the Aegean, great wines are emerging that rival the best the world can ofer. The Corvus vineyards, once among the Mediterranean’s most celebrated, have suffered centuries of neglect. Kevin Gould raises a glass to their renaissance with the founder of Corvus, Resit Soley.
    See Cornucopia’s self-guided wine tour

  • Barbarossa’s Baths

    Another masterpiece by the imperial architect Sinan, the Cınılı Hammam in the Old City of Istanbul was built for the legendary corsair-turned-admiral Barbaros Hayrettın Pasha, or Barbarossa, in the 1540s. Today it is far from grand, and only a few of the tiles that gave it the name Çınılı (Tiled) are still in evidence. But nothing can diminish the effect of the soaring curvy arches supporting a series of imposing domes.

  • Dome of Baroque

    When it was built in 1741 in the new Baroque style, Cağaloğlu was at the forefront of architectural fashion. But this temple of cleanliness in the Old City marks the dramatic swansong of the grand Ottoman hammam.

  • Digging for Glory

    Bodrum’s peace was shattered in 1856 by the arrival of a warship bearing one of the most ambitious archaeological expeditions Britain has ever launched. Leading it was Charles Newton. His mission was to locate, excavate and carry home one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Good places to stay
Buy the issue
Issue 41, 2009 Inside Istanbul’s Grand Hammams
£8.00 / $10.15 / 331.41 TL
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