Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

The lentil is probably the oldest cultivated legume, contemporaneous with wheat and barley and often growing alongside these grasses. Its native ground is arid Southwest Asia, and it’s now commonly eaten across Europe and Asia. Most lentils are produced in India and Turkey, with Canada a distant third. The Latin word for lentil, lens, gives us our word for a lentil-shaped, or doubly convex, piece of glass (the coinage dates from the 17th century). Lentils contain low levels of antinutritional factors and cook quickly.