Wood Sorrel, Field Sorrel

Appears in

Honey from a Weed

By Patience Gray

Published 1986

Oxalis acetosella Rumex acetosella, R scutatus
agrella (Catalan) • xiníthra (Greek) agrella (Catalan) • xinolápathon (Greek)
Two plants with a single Italian name.

Wood sorrel, a small trefoil: this ‘of all Sorrell sauces is the best,’ wrote Gerard. These fragile leaves and stems were those originally used by the French in their Julienne soup, according to Kettner. Wood sorrel is less acid than field sorrel. It appears in the soup as little ‘threads’, these being the stalks, the trefoil leaves having dissolved. They are the origin of the fact that a Julienne soup should contain little vegetable slithers finely cut and hence of the phrase en julienne. Gerard’s sauce was sorrel ‘stamped’ (pounded) raw to which was added sugar and vinegar, a sauce for roast meat. In his day a polished brass cannon ball was sometimes used as pestle.