Eat this Word: Purslane

PurslaneWHAT? In the weeds. The Forme of Cury, the earliest known English cookbook (published around 1390 by Richard II's cooks), asks for "purslarye" in a salad recipe; colonists brought the plant to America, where they used it as an herb and pickled it for a condiment; and a few sources say it was Ghandi's favorite vegetable. It's a main ingredient in fattoush, a Middle-Eastern bread salad, and Arabs once believed that if sprinkled around the bed, the small, oval-shaped leaves could chase away erotic dreams. (Why they'd want to, we don't know.) At some point in this country, purslane fell into disfavor. Waverly Root quotes a certain William Cobett on purslane in 1819: "a mischievous weed that Frenchmen and pigs eat when they can get nothing else." Happily, American chefs are rediscovering the herb's subtly tart pleasures. WHERE? Tom Crenshaw's Beard House Dinner WHEN? August 18, 2010 HOW? Baby Crabcakes with Crispy Phyllo, Tomato Fondue, and Purslane

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