Sinapis alba

White mustard                                                                                                  Σινάπι                                                                  

Cruciferae - the mustard family                                                                               Dicot.


Sinapis alba has been cultivated as a food flavouring and for its nutricious green leaves since ancient times. Pliny described how it grows in the wild but can be easily transplanted, when it produces abundant seeds which spread around. Originating around the Mediterranean, it grows as a weed in many parts of the world, including Skopelos.  In early summertime, it fills fields and olive groves with brilliant yellow flowers on tall branched stems.

In winter and spring, it is collected as a wild green or horta plant; all parts of the plant are edible. It is not the leaves that are highly prized, but the tender tops of the stems with unopened flower buds, known as vrouves (βρούβες). It is widely cultivated, its seeds, whch are ground to make mustard are milder than those of black mustard (Brassica nigra).

It is said that when Zarius met Alexander the Great prior to battle, Zarius gave Alexander a bag of sesame seed with one seed for every soldier in his army to indicating its huge size. Alexander returned a bag of mustard seeds, though fewer in number, illustrated how strong and ferocious his Greek soldiers were.

1.5-2cm, 50-100cm,
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sinapis from sinapi - Latin for mustard

alba- Latin for white

Mustard an ancient condiment

Rather surprisingly, the history of souvlakia has been traced back to ancient times. Pairs of cow shaped ceramic objects were discovered at Akrotiri, the 17th century BC volcanic  site on Santorini. They are thought to have been used as supports for skewers for cooking meat. These little meaty treats were called obeliskos, the dimiutive of obelisk meaning spit. There is evidence that the meat was flavoured with mustard.

Not much has changed!

Image: pxfuel

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