Eringo Root

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

eringo root the root of the sea holly, Eryngium maritimum, which was widely eaten in candied or pickled form in England, and in other European countries, in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Boiled or roasted, the roots are said to taste something like chestnut or parsnip; but they were more commonly used in sweetmeat form than as a vegetable. Candied, and sometimes called ‘kissing comfits’, they had a reputation as an aphrodisiac, and it was for this reason that Shakespeare had Falstaff demand that the sky should ‘hail kissing comfits, and snow eryngoes’. Belief in the aphrodisiac power of eringo root has been traced back to Pliny by Ivan Day (1996a) who provides fascinating information on this and other aspects of the root in a major essay.