Psito Kréatos

Psito Kréatos


Marigold, Calendula officinalis, is probably native to southern Europe. Nobody knows for sure as it has been cultivated a very long time. We know that the flower was very popular with the ancient Greeks. In Greek mythology, after Apollo abandoned Clytia she sat naked on the rocks, without food or drink, staring at the sun.


After nine days she turned yellow and brown, and was transformed into a Marigold, always turning its head to look longingly at Apollo’s chariot of the sun.

English poets really loved Marigold and called it e.g. “Bride of the Sun” and “Mary’s Bud”.


Perdita from Shakespeare's Winter's Tale

Perdita, painting by Anthony Frederick Augustus, 1866




In the Winter’s Tale Shakespeare lets Perdita tell about Marigold and how the flower goes to bed with the sun and rises crying the next morning.





The Beggar's Opera

Painting by William Hogarth of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, Act 5, ca. 1728, oil on canvas, 56 × 72,5 cm.

The Beggar’s Opera by John Gay gives us a recipe for what I call Psito Kréatos which is Greek for broiled veal. This in honor of the poor Clytia:

“And lettuce and beet with marigold meet.”


Used as a herb, the flower-leafs of marigold enhance the taste of almost all food. You can use it either fresh or dried.



Take a knuckle of veal,
You may buy it or steal;
In a few pieces cut it,
In stewing pan put it,
Salt, pepper and mace,
Must season this knuckle;
Then what’s joined to a place
With other herbs muckle;
That which killed king Will
And what never stands still
Some springs from that bed
Where children are bred
Which much will mend, if
Both spinach and endive,
And lettuce and beet
with marigold meet.
Put no water at all,
For it maketh things small,
Which lest it should happen,
A close cover clap on;
Put this pot of wood metal
In a boiling hot kettle,
And there let it be
(Mark this doctrine I teach)
Above, let me see,
Thrice as long as you preach.
So skimming the fat off,
Oh! then with what rapture
Will it fill Dean a Chapter!


About ImaKalya

I write about herbs, spices, food and a little around these topics.
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2 Responses to Psito Kréatos

  1. Interesting as always. I am your fan. 🙂

  2. Koen says:

    Perhaps it is useful to provide the translation of this quite cryptic recipe?
    “Mace” is Nutmeg. “what’s joined to a place” means Celery. “That which killed King Will” refers to King William III who died by cause of his horse named Sorrell, and Sorrel is a herb. “That which never stands still” is Thyme (yes, wordplay on the word “Time”->”Thyme”). “Springs from that bed where children are bred” means cuttings from a bed of Parsley.
    So the actual recipe is: veal knuckle (aka shank), salt, pepper, nutmeg, celery, sorrel, parsley, spinach, andive, lettuce, beet, marigold, and do not add any water. Put all ingredients in a pot with a lid on it and boil/simmer on a fire for 3 times as long as it takes to read the Book of Marcus (“Mark this doctrine I teach/thrice as long as you preach”) then remove from the fire and scoop off the fats.
    This is quite similar to the healing broth or soup made from beef or lamb shank and/or marrow and meat that was quite common in later medieval times, although it contains a few ingredients that are less common. Thyme, parsley, celery and beets were quite common additives, but nutmeg, sorrel, spinach, andives, lettuce and marigold less so.
    I hope this is of use to someone.

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