Thursday, April 26, 2018

La Maison Rustique - Turnips

From: L'agriculture et maison rustique, Charles Estienne (Rouen, 1658).

The Potherbs

(Chapter 32)


[Translator's Note: the heading specifies two different plant names: “Naveaux ou Navets”. Cotgrave’s 1611 French-English dictionary gives the following definitions.

Naveau: The navew gentle, French navew, long rape (a savorie root) / Naveau blanc de Jardin: the ordinarie rape, or turnep / Naveau rond: a Turnep.

Navet: The small Navew gentle, the least (and daintiest) kind of the French navew.]

Large and small turnips, called “nappi” in Latin, are two kinds of the same species, however different in flavor, color, and size. The roots are larger on the yellow turnips, and less pleasant tasting. The white turnips are smaller and much more savorous. Both of them are sown in the same fashion in well turned soil, worked, and rendered very soft so that they can lodge well before taking root, or in soil that you want to clear, or in that which has been newly plowed, or between millet and panic [a grain in the genus Panicum], and it is sown in finely powdered soil, for sowing more clearly, and no more than three years old, because after three years it produces cabbages. If the seeds are soaked or mulled in milk, must, or hydromel for two or three days before sowing they will be infinitely better.

If they come in to thickly, they must be cut away for transplanting elsewhere. They must be weeded and spaded, allowing the most beautiful and tall to go to seed, and sow them in August. To sow them one must wait until the soil has been newly watered with rain, because they grow better that way. Above all they must not be sown in shady ground, for the shadows are completely contrary to them, and again the soil must be good and fertile. They are harvested in November, and keep through winter in sands and cellars, for eating throughout winter and Lent. This brings me back to those of Maison and Vau Girard near Paris, who harvest and gather them each year for selling in Paris.

The turnip root is windy and engenders the wind in little children for its sweetness, so you must eat it with mustard. It is true that their seeds resist poison, which is why it is used in antidotes. It also causes worms to die when mixed with the juice of oranges or lemons. And draws out the venom of smallpox, and when shredded with a decoction of maidenhair fern or lentils, provokes urination if it is mixed with an equal quantity of flax seed and given to drink with wine. It induces vomiting of undigested stomach contents when taken with oxymel and warm water. The Egyptians make it into very good oil.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

La Maison Rustique - The Potherbs - Parsnips, Carrots, Skirrets

From: L'agriculture et maison rustique, Charles Estienne (Rouen, 1658).

The Potherbs

(Chapter 35)

Parsnips, Carrots, Skirrets

[Translator's Note: the heading specifies four different plants:  Panis, Pastenades, Carrotes, and Chervis. Cotgrave’s 1611 French-English dictionary gives the following definitions.

Panaiz: A certain root thats lesse, and ranker, then the ordinarie Parsenip, otherwise resembling it, and oft mistaken for it / Panaiz de Macedoine: the Macedonian Parsenip, whose juice is much esteemed of by heardsmen / Panaiz sauvage: Hercules Wound-wort, or All-heale, also the wild Carrot, Some also tearme so Cow Parsenip, meadow Parsenip, Madnep.

Pastenade: The Garden carrot, or a root like a Carrot (most commonly) of a bloud-red colour, and sometimes of a yellow, but that by Art, some Authers also call the Parsnip thus / Pastenade jaulne: the yellow garden Carrot / Pastenade rouge: the red, or blacke Carrot / Pastenade sauvage: The wild Carrot, called Birds-neast.

Carote: The Carrot (root, or hearbe) / Carote sauvage: Daucus, wild Carrot, birds neast.

Chervis: The root Skirret, or Skirwicke / Chervis grand: A Parsnip / Chervis sauvage: The wild Parsnip, or wild Skirret.

So effectively, this section is titled, “Parsnips (maybe wild carrots), Carrots (maybe parsnips), Carrots, and Skirrets (maybe parsnips).”]

Wild carrots, parsnips, carrots, and skirrets, are all planted in the same fashion in soil that is well turned, cleared of stones, weeded, cleared of all other pests and roots, fertilized, and strongly worked ahead of time, but they are not sown thick so they will grow large and thick. If they are sown they must be watered, and of the weather is dry, once a week as long as they are growing well. They are planted in Autumn, and at the renewal. Autumn is always the best to have at the time of Lent. If you want the roots to be beautiful, large, and thick, you must often cut away the leaves, and must pick them half a year after they are sown. In cutting away the leaves, keep them in sand, mainly in winter, because the frost will spoil them.

Carrots can be kept for a whole year or two in the ground, so much so that they are found by torrents of rain, old and new, which are good winter and in Lent, either fried or otherwise.

All have the virtue of encouraging urination, of calming the pain of colic, and of provoking menstruation in women. The pounded leaves used as a plaster, when put on the legs is very beneficial.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

La Maison Rustique - The Potherbs - Rocket and Tarragon

From: L'agriculture et maison rustique, Charles Estienne (Rouen, 1658).

The Potherbs

(Chapter 27)


Rocket and Tarragon

Rocket, an herb common in salads, is good to temper the coldness of lettuce. It can be sown and planted as much in winter as in summer, because it does not fear the cold, nor does it beg for airing or require much work. It likes to be frequently weeded and fertilized in sandy soil. Rocket should not be eaten alone because of the excessive heat it brings to those who use it so it should be given a companion such as lettuce when eaten in a salad, because one will temper the other. It is good nevertheless for urinating, applied in the form of a poultice to the penis. It is said that three leaves of rocket picked with the left hand, pounded with mead, and taken in drink are excellent for jaundice and hardening of the spleen. Rocket cooked and mixed with sugar cures the coughs of little children. Tarragon, which gardeners call “estrangon,” is made of flaxseed or in many places from the head of red onion, which is the strongest one can find, and planted in well fertilized earth, and after it has sprouted the height of a foot or so, it is necessary to take the end and replant it in the same soil, and water it often. Tarragon has the same virtues as rocket, and should not be eaten alone, but with similar lettuce and herbs.