Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Not Just Wine Issue 60, February 2008   
CeleryCelery Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 59, January 2008 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 61, March 2008

Celery

Found in the gastronomies of the world, it is also used in pharmacology, in ancient times was used for magic rites, in the preparation of aphrodisiac potions and in funeral ceremonies

 Celery, that is Apium Graveolens, belongs to the family of Apiaceae, is a herbaceous biennial plant, with a cylindrical root in the cultivated varieties, whereas in wild varieties the root has a thin shape. Flowers are in the form of umbel, are made of about one hundred white-greenish flowers. Celery belongs to the same family of parsley and fennel. During the first year, from the root are generated leaves only, during the second year are developed ribs with flowers which can also reach one meter in height. Lower leaves have a long stem which expand to the base, wild plants have trilobed leaves, whereas cultivated varieties have pentalobed ones. Flowers are grouped in umbels at the end of branches. The calyx is very small, corolla is made from five white petals. Fruits are made of two achenes, close one to each other in a flat surface.


Found in every country of the world, celery
is a common ingredient in many dishes
Found in every country of the world, celery is a common ingredient in many dishes

 The plant of celery requires a lot of water, in fact, wild celery grows in humid, marshy and wild places only, in particular near the sea. The taste and the aroma of wild celery is not so pleasing. As opposed to wild varieties, cultivated celery has a good taste and a good aroma. Coming from Europe originally, where it is being cultivated since the seventeenth century, celery is now common in every region with a tempered climate. Today celery grows in most of the European territory, in Northern Africa, in Asia and in Southern America. The term “celery” comes from the Greek selion, mentioned in the books of Homer as crown for athletes. Greeks used to cultivate celery for the medical properties of its seeds, however they did not use it in cooking, as they believed it was a sacrilege. Homer mentioned it as a divine plant, whereas Achilles healed his horse thanks to the properties of celery.

 Since past times, celery was used both as a food and as a medicinal plant. From June to July, and every two years, in Nemea took place Nemean games, an event which, from 573 BC on, became a Panhellenic festival and winners were given a crown made of wild celery. In Corinth, during Isthmian Games, in 581 BC, in honor of Poseidon and Palaemon gods, winners were given a plant of celery. Plutarch described celery as a plant sacred to the “Great Mother” used in occasion of funeral ceremonies and consumed raw as an aphrodisiac. At those times it was believed a rib of celery boiled in nights of full moon and then applied to the skin of men and women, was useful for strengthening erotic charge, whereas in case a celery rib was placed in a bed, it was useful for strengthening love between a couple. The culture of that time strongly believed celery had aphrodisiac effects, and when a person gave some celery pith to a person of the opposite sex, this was considered as an explicit invitation of mating.

 Selinunte (Selinos in Greek, Selinus in Latin) was an ancient Greek city located in the South-Western area of Sicily: the name of the city derived from the wild celery settlers found there in abundant quantities. It seems Selinunte, at that time, was one of the most important places for the production and trading of celery. A plant of celery was also represented in the coins of the city. Hippocrates (460 BC - 377 BC), father of medicine, wrote «if your nerves are upset, celery will be your healing and remedy». Ancient Romans widely used celery in cooking, both for its unmistakable aroma as well as they believed it was a good remedy against the effects of alcohol. During Roman banquets was not rare to see commensals with celery crowns on their heads. In Middle Age celery played a very important role for the lives of European people, in particular for its medical properties. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), also known as Saint Hildegard, benedictine mystics and religious, founder of Bingen monastery, used celery as a remedy against depression.


 

 Michele Savonarola (Padua, 1385-1466), one of the most famous physicians and humanists of the thirteenth century, discouraged women to the consumption of celery as it was believed to be a sexual stimulant even for those who wanted to stay chaste. The first information about the use of celery in cooking are dated back to 1623. In France, in 1700s at the court of Marquise de Pompadour, celery became very common as an erotic stimulant. In the 1800s its qualities were emphasized by the famous French gastronomer Alexandre Balthazar Laurente Grimod de la Reynière (Paris 1759-1837). The most common use of celery today is cooking, virtually found in every country of the world. It is consumed fresh and raw with olive oil, with cheeses, as a side dish, or used to give flavors to soups and stocks, as well as for the preparation of sauces. Celery is also used, together with carrot and onion, for the preparation of classic soffritto all'Italiana, base for many recipes in Italian cooking. In past times celery was cultivated in marshy areas, today, thanks to irrigation techniques, cultivation is possible in every type of soil.

 In order to make cultivation of celery profitable, today are used hybrid varieties, in order to ensure a higher yield and constant over time, as well as obtaining more and more resistant varieties. The result of this selection has allowed the cultivation of particularly productive varieties, such as giant golden celery of Castelnuovo Scrivia, in province of Alessandria, Italy. This variety of celery has large ribs, tender and aromatic, and can reach 60 centimeters in height. The type of soil is very important for the cultivation of celery, this must be fine and deep in order to allow a proper development of roots and a good availability of phosphor and potassium. Because of the considerable need of water, celery must be cultivated in a well irrigated soil. Harvesting is usually done by hand, with a preliminary selection and then a second one, in which celery is washed, in order to remove any residual, and part of the leaves are removed as they are not used in cooking.

 

Varieties of Celery

 Celery usually found in shops comes from three different botanical varieties: dulce (sweet), or ribbed celery, is the most common type of celery with ribs and it is the most important commercial type; rapaceum, or tuberous celery, has a spherical root, very big and making the edible part; silvestre, cultivated for the production of leaves to be used as flavorings. Some varieties, coming from the past, have been rediscovered by modern genetics, of which the most common ones are:

 

  • Golden celery of Asti - It is one of the most common varieties, large size, broad and soft ribs, with a yellowish color
  • Green celery with full ribs - it is a variety with full ribs and very appreciated
  • Green celery with giant full ribs - It is a variety with long and large ribs, with a deep green color. It is one of the most aromatic and tasty varieties, very appreciated by consumers
  • Common celery - It is the most common celery used as a condiment, for this reason producers try to enhance its good taste
  • Tuberous celery - It is a type of celery whose root gets as big as a beet, up to a diameter of 15-20 centimeters. It is a biennial plant and the only part to be consumed is the root. Harvesting begins in the half of August and ends before winter frosts. It is usually kept in cold stores up to 5 months. Tuberous celery has few calories, fats are practically absent and proteins are very few, it contains fair quantity of vitamins and mineral salts. It has remineralizant, depurative, tonic, digestive and diuretic properties
  • Red celery - Also known as violet celery, it is a subspecies of violet celery of Tours, introduced in Piedmont at the end of 1600s, by Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy's wife, duchess of Savoy Anne Marie d'Orleans. The duchess was particularly greed of this vegetable who wanted to import plants and seeds. In Piedmont this plant found its ideal habitat near the city of Orbassano (in the province of Turin), where it developed particular characteristics and with time has become an autochthonous vegetable

 Celery is known for its antirheumatic, diuretic, stimulant, depurative, digestive and sudorific properties. Despite in herbal medicine wild celery is considered to be the best, it can however be used the cultivated variety as well. Leaves, seeds and roots of the plant have diuretic, sudorific and depurative effects, used for stimulating the urinary system, as coadjuvant in case of rheumatism, uricemy and obesity. Leaves and roots have digestive properties and stimulate the secretion of bile. All these properties can be obtained both by consuming the fresh part or by drinking celery juice. An infusion of celery seeds can be of help against insomnia. Celery fruits favor the elimination of intestinal gas and have an anti-dolorific effect. Celery decoction was used as anti catarrhal and antiscorbutic. Modern pharmacology does not deny the properties of the plant, even though it found most effective remedies. Today celery is mainly used in cooking as flavoring and for the preparation of bases and sauces. Celery can be kept in fridge for a long time, however its ribs stay crunchy for just four or five days.

 



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  Not Just Wine Issue 60, February 2008   
CeleryCelery Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 59, January 2008 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 61, March 2008

Wine Parade


 

The best 15 wines according to DiWineTaste's readers. To express your best three wines send us an E-mail or fill in the form available at our WEB site.


Rank Wine, Producer
1 Barolo Cannubi Boschis 2001, Sandrone (Italy)
2 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2000, Zenato (Italy)
3 Barolo Bussia 2001, Prunotto (Italy)
4 Collio Bianco Col Disôre 2004, Russiz Superiore (Italy)
5 Sforzato di Valtellina Canua 2001, Conti Sertoli Salis (Italy)
6 Soave Classico Monte Alto 2004, Ca' Rugate (Italy)
7 Bradisismo 2003, Inama (Italy)
8 San Leonardo 2001, Tenuta San Leonardo (Italy)
9 Sagrantino di Montefalco Collepiano 2003, Arnaldo Caprai (Italy)
10 Wine Obsession 2001, Vignamaggio (Italy)
11 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Costasera 2001, Masi (Italy)
12 Chianti Classico Riserva Novecento 2000, Dievole (Italy)
13 Don Antonio 2003, Morgante (Italy)
14 Blanc des Rosis 2006, Schiopetto (Italy)
15 Nero al Tondo 2001, Ruffino (Italy)

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