Carrots and Anise
Around the end of the 12th century Seville was home to the Arab Andalusian agriculturist Abu Zakariya Yahya ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Al-Awwam Al-Ishbili.
He is known as Ibn al-‘Awwam, the author of the famous treatise on agriculture, Kitab al-fila-hah, one of the most important medieval works on the subject.
In this book he describes both red and yellow carrots – among a lot of other topics.
Encyclopedia Britannica writes:
The book “consists of 35 chapters dealing with agronomy, cattle and poultry raising, and beekeeping. It deals with 585 plants; explains the cultivation of more than 50 fruit trees; and includes many valuable observations on soils, manures, plant grafting, and plant diseases. Much of the material was derived from Greek and Arabic literature, especially from the treatise on Nabatean agriculture of Ibn Wahshiyah, but Ibn al-‘Awwam made many additions to the accumulated knowledge and experience of his Moorish contemporaries.”
The carrots as we know them today probably came to Europe from the Orient in the 8-10th centuries. In early use, carrots were grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not their roots. Orange-colored carrots first appeared in the Netherlands in the 17th century.
Anise is one of our oldest herbs. (You can read more about anise on my page about anise). Anise-seeds are sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by their licorice-like flavor.
Carrots and anise make a delicious combination, and if you like the taste of licorice, I recommend that you give this a try:
- Carrots, as many as you would like to eat
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- Parsley (optional)
Peel the carrots and slice them. In a pan, melt the butter, add some olive oil, and fry the carrot slices. It doesn’t take long, I find the carrots best if they retain some crispness. Add anise-seeds. Taste. Add salt and pepper.
Sprinkle some parsley on top and serve.