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The history of lettuce is not full of incident. Marco Polo did not bring back lettuce to Europe from Cathay (any more than he legendarily exported pasta). Marie Antoinette did not tell Parisians short on bread to eat lettuce instead. Although lettuce was certainly known to the Romans of Petronius’s day, it does not figure in the menu alongside honeyed dormice* at the banquet of Trimalchio in his Satyricon. But lettuce is not boring. Cultigens of Lactuca sativa run the visual and physical gamut from bitter to peppery, green to red, tightly headed to loose-leafed, flat to curly. Needless to say, everyone knows about lettuce.

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