PLINY THE ELDER, NATURAL HISTORY 21.50

Secuntur herbae sponte nascentes, quibus pleraeque gentium utuntur in cibis maximeque Aegyptus, frugum quidem fertilissima, sed prope sola iis carere possit. Tantus est ciborum ex herbis abundantia. In italia paucissimas novimus, fraga, tamnum, ruscum, batim marina, batim hortensiam, quas aliqui aspargum gallicum vocant, praeter has pastinacam pratensem, lupum salictarium, eaque verius oblectamenta quam cibos.

The herbs that are born on their own follow [in this account] which many people use in their food, especially in Egypt, where there is such an abundance of food from herbs that the Egyptians are nearly able to subsist without grain. In Italy, we know the smallest number [or plants]: strawberries, tamnum, butcher’s broom, sea batis, garden batis, which some call Gallic asparagus; we also mention the meadow parsnip and the hop which more truly are enjoyments rather than food.

Background
Pliny being Pliny: Talking about nature.

Commentary
Hops are not food? Hops are for enjoyment? . . . Those Romans are not so different from us! Unfortunately, “meadow parsnip” never caught on as well as hops for beer additives.

Author’s Note
Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE)
I’m still advocating for the correct pronunciation of his name.

 

Photosource: wikimediacommons.org

N.B. An interesting discussion about the identification of lupum salictarium as the wild hop can be read here (http://zythophile.co.uk/2010/03/14/so-what-did-pliny-the-elder-say-about-hops/#more-929).

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