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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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spinach Spinacia oleracea, the ‘prince of vegetables’ according to the 12th-century Arab writer Ibn al-Awam, originated in Persia, where some inedible wild relations still grow, and where it was under cultivation in the 4th century AD or earlier. Its name in English and in many other languages derives, via Arabic, from an old Persian name, aspanākh.

The plant had travelled east to China via Nepal by the 7th century, but only reached Europe in the 11th century, when the Arabs who invaded Spain brought it with them.