Glorious fennel

My recollection of world history class consists of wars and rumors of wars….not an inspiring session. I would have remembered if history had been taught from the perspective of carrots and choke cherries. I just learned that fennel was a key ingredient to the rise of western civilization! The war between Persia, the superpower of the day, and the upshot Athenians & Greeks was held in fields of fennel or translated into Greek: the plains of Marathon!

HaHa! Steve is training for the Twin Cities Marathon this fall. The word ‘marathon’ attached itself to long runs since Phidippides, the best runner at that time, in 490 BCE, ran to the next town to request aid against the Persian invasion. Perhaps all the horses were occupied with pulling disks to rid the marathon (fennel) fields of pig-weed thus no other mode of transport?

Marathon history makes for an interesting read of a tasty, aromatic vegetable that has flavors of licorice and anise. Store fennel fresh in the refrigerator and plan to eat it soon after harvest for the best flavor. All parts, bulb, stems and fronds are eatable. I dry the fronds for lovely cups of tea to enjoy during those cold winter nights…..I have oodles of recipes but an easy one is:

Fennel Carrot Salad

1 fennel bulb thinly sliced
4 large carrots, grated
1 T parsley, chopped
¼ C lemon juice
1 garlic, minced
6 T olive oil

Harvesting after such a wonderful gift of rain is inspiring! We plan to have market boxes brimming once again with fennel, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, tomatoes of all kinds, kale, leeks, cucumbers, a variety of summer squash, onions, herbs and maybe a choice of wax beans or eggplant.  We will have green peppers & potatoes for sale along with fresh herb bread, jams and pickles. A few of Farmer Lynn’s eggs are available but she will be at the fair this week.