Thursday, 25 September 2008

WATERCRESS


“Salad freshens without enfeebling and fortifies without irritating.” - Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

The plant for today’s birthdays is the watercress, Nasturtium officinalis. It is one of the nine sacred herbs of the Hebrews, who consume it as a side dish during the Passover Feast. The herb is symbolic of the coming of Spring and suggests renewal, hope and redemption. The ancient Greeks also held it in high regard and the saying “eat cresses and get wit” is attributable to this. It is a lunar herb and symbolises stability and power.

Blackberries should now be ripe and ready for gathering. In Scotland, it was said that this should be done before Old Holy Rood Day (September 26th) as the Devils poisoned the brambles on that day:
Oh weans! Oh weans! The morn’s the Fair
Ye may na eat the berries mair
This nicht the Deil gangs ower them a’
To touch them with his pooshioned paw.

In most of England, the Devil is thought not to spit or urinate on the berries until Michaelmas (September 29th) or even until Old Michaelmas (October 10th). It depends on how many good berries are still around it seems! Blackberry tarts can be made with the gathered berries.

watercress |ˈwôtərˌkres| noun
A cress that grows in running water and whose pungent leaves are used in salad. • Nasturtium officinale, family Brassicaceae.
ORIGIN Old English cresse, cærse; related to Dutch kers and German Kresse.

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