Like cars and computers, a surprising number of us interact every day with things we don’t understand very well — including our food. With the advent of grocery stores taking away much of the up-close-and-personal processing we used to have to do to our food, we of course understand less about it. Some food items have little tricks that help you prepare and understand them. Others have strange or even, dare I say, seedy histories.
1. Celery was once too flavorful
Before the domestication of celery, it was a wild plant known more commonly as “smallage,” and it was so potent and bitter that it had to be cooked down for hours before it was edible.
This veggie started out dark green with hollow stalks and a serious bite. When the English started cultivating and breeding celery for something more to taste (the bland stalk we know now), they bred stalks to be more dense. The farmers found that by “banking” the celery while it grew — covering the plant with dirt to prevent it from reaching sunlight and from creating chlorophyll — it became sweeter, paler, and more tender.