The leek and apple have nourished people for thousands of years. Both have been cultivated across the world and enriched our mythology and literature with symbolism.
The leek is considered native to Asia Minor or the Mediterranean. It has been used in cooking for more than 3,000 years. Here are some interesting facts:
- In the Bible, the verse “Remember how in Egypt we had fish tor the asking, cucumbers, and watermelons, leeks and onions and garlic” is the cry uttered by the Israelites searching for the Promised Land. Later leeks were served on Rosh Hashanah, the Hebrew word for leek similar to “cut off,” expressing the desire to “cut off” enemies.
- Emperor Nero (37-68 AD) reportedly ate leeks to improve his singing voice.
- Agatha Christie supposedly named one of her most famous characters, the French detective, Poirot, after the leek (Fr., poireau).
The apple tree was providing fruit thousands of years ago in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kazakhstan. Remnants of apples have been found in Stone Age dwellings in what is now Switzerland and were cultivated by the Greeks as far back as 300 BCE. Apples have been heralded throughout history, including in the story of Adam and Eve, as symbols of love and beauty to the Greeks and Romans, and in the story of William Tell, the Swiss hero who with an arrow split an apple perched on his son’s head, thus saving both their lives after their Austrian overseer punished them for disobedience. Some other facts about apples:
- 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world.
- The world’s top apple producers are China, United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy.
- The Lady or Api apple is one of the oldest varieties in existence.
So savor the interplay of flavors in this Roasted Leeks and Apples dish and consider the history at your table this season.
Roasted Leeks and Apple
Adapted from http://www.helleniccomserve.com/recipe.html
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon anise seeds
- 3 large leeks, white & tender green parts
- 1 crisp apple (such as Granny Smith or Fiji) cored & sliced
- Salt and freshly milled pepper
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Whisk together the oil, wine, marjoram, and anise seeds in a medium baking pan until combined. Quarter the leeks and slice into 2-inch pieces.
Add the leeks and apple to the dressing, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring gently about every 10 minutes, until the leeks are golden and the apple is soft.
1. Numbers 11:5
2. Ref to: http://www.british-leeks.co.uk/history.html – British Leeks: History
3. http://jed.cecc.com.au/programs/resource_manager/ accounts//chrlc/MurderofRogerAckroyd.doc