Monday, July 4, 2011

A Long Walk and Marathon

Pruned fennel at Shoreline Park, Mountain ViewThe weather in the San Francisco Bay Area has turned hot again and I like to take long walks with my family around parks near the shore. One thing I noticed consistently was how many wild fennel plants were growing in the marshy area right next to the bay (as you can see in the picture to the left, which ironically was taken in winter). I've also seen patches after patches of wild fennel growing right on the freeway. I even had one in my front yard, and it was quite a lovely sight until it grew too big and I had to cut it down.

Fennel is not native to North America, being an import from the Mediterranean brought by early European immigrants, but they grow really well here because the Bay Area has a Mediterranean climate. They could be considered an invasive species but they're already pretty much integrated into the landscapes of Northern California.

Fennel is quite a culinary chameleon in that you can use its root (or bulb), its fronds (the frilly leaves), its "seeds" (which are actually fruits) and even its pollen. And it is used in cooking from France to China and anywhere else in between, as also increasingly in regional American cooking. There is even anecdotes of restaurants using fennel in their parking lots when their stock in the walk-in runs out. It has also been used extensively as medicine. It has carminative (gas-relieving) properties that would alleviate stomach ailments. It is also an anticoagulant (prevents blood clots) and a diuretic (makes you want to pee but also lowers blood pressure). It also has low-level contraception properties, and in fact the famous contraceptive of the Classical world, silphium, might have been a relative of fennel.

Fennel is also attested quite early in ancient texts (indeed this is related to Ancient Scripts) and indirectly is quite important to world history. One very famous place in Greece is Marathon, literally meaning "Place of Fennels". In Mycenaean Greek it was marathwon, written as ma-ra-tu-wo. The modern word "marathon", which means a really long run (42 km or 26 miles), came from the semi-legendary feat of a Greek soldier who ran that distance from Marathon to Athens after the Battle of Marathon (490 BCE) to transmit the message that the Greeks had prevailed over the Persians. According to the story, the messenger died of exhaustion after delivering his verbal message.

The Hittites, the Mycenaean's eastern neighbors in Anatolia, also wrote about fennel. Coincidentally, among the Hittites fennel also has a martial connotation, but one associated with defeat. According to Durnford and Akeroyd, the Hittites had a ritual of cursing a conquered town to mark it as uninhabitable by planting the seeds of a particular plant commonly written in sumerogram ZÀ.AḪ.LI. Sumerogram is a cuneiform logogram directly borrowed from Sumerian, and as such does not provide any clue to actual pronunciation of the word in Hittite.

However, the recent discovery of a partially preserved "dictionary" of useful plants between Akkadian and Hittite revealed ZÀ.AḪ.LI to be marašḫanḫaš. Through process of elimination and contextual evidence, the authors identified marašḫanḫaš to be fennel.

Why would the planting of fennel seeds be considered to curse a city so it cannot be populated again, especially since fennel has so many beneficial uses? This goes back to my observation of how common fennel is in Northern California only after two centuries of European settlement. The plant grows extremely quickly in rocky or poor soil. When a city falls into disrepair, fennel is likely the first plant to take over the ruins. In other words, the prolific nature of fennel is a symbol of the abandonment of civilized life. Quick ironic to me.

One interesting linguistic observation is that the Mycenaean Greek marathwon and Hittite marašḫanḫaš seem to share a common root, namely *mara(s/t). Since both Greeks and Hittites were Indo-European whose ancestors came from the Central Asian steppes, it is quite likely they adopted the local name for fennel, a securely Mediterranean plant. Hence this common root could be part of a pre-Indo-European linguistic continuum stretching across both sides of the Aegean Sea.

My son loves curry, and I make it pretty much every weekend. I grind my own garam masala, a "warm" spice blend used in Indian cooking. My basic recipe is 3 parts cumin, 2 parts cardamom, 1 part cinnamon, 1 part caraway seeds, 1 part coriander seeds, and 1 part fennel seeds. Not only fennel but all these spices appear in ancient texts. This recipe I'm using could be 5,000 years old.

References:

73 comments:

  1. Your article was good. Thanks for the great site and information keep it up.. Himilayan Salt Inhaler

    ReplyDelete
  2. As co-author of the fennel article in Anatolian Studies, I much appreciate the corroborative observations from the San Francisco area.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fantastic post I really like your current article; appreciate the way you outlined things, you are doing a terrific work most of some others as you by way of that kind of helpful information sites present recognition in order to you relevant to lots of things. My spouse and i understand some other useful blogs through your internet websites and also My business is a great deal serious using your writing a blog abilities, I additionally did start to write write-up and this also kind talk truly guide us out. When i currently added your current web page and contributed your internet websites to be able to my personal fellow workers not just us nevertheless them all like your current running a blog ability, trust a person compose much more interesting information sites such as this one particular along with best of luck on your foreseeable future information sites.

    Jimmy Wilson-leather bomber jacket youth

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post! I’m a regular marathon power walker from England and there’s some good advice on your feed. Enjoy your article.
    Get personal statement from professionals | want dissertation writer? Ask writing kingdom

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice one! I'm glad and running are still on good terms, but it's also so challenging to stay humbled within those first few miles.
    research paper town

    ReplyDelete
  6. The exact meaning of these finds remains unclear, but it looks a lot like the purposes where of medical and religious nature and played a big part in daily life.Passbeemedia

    ReplyDelete
  7. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.perumahan batununggal bandung

    ReplyDelete
  8. There are some factors that you will need to know before you start taking any penis enlargement pills. When you are taking the pill, you will need to ensure that you drink plenty of water. Li-ion battery

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.Escape The Room

    ReplyDelete
  10. When thinking about improving our home environment it is important to think about healthy water for everyone and everything. A house structured water device is a nice addition to any home. It is like installing a protective shield.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is just the information I am finding everywhere. Thanks for your blog, I just subscribe your blog. This is a nice blog..electronicxchange.com/

    ReplyDelete
  12. I truly acknowledge individuals like you! fare thee well Liable to bookmark your site. You really have astounding articles and surveys.Digital Marketing

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have a window phone and these apps will help me out to explore more things in my cell phone...Thanks for giving such a nice piece of information...alexandria pest control

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for sharing the post.. parents are worlds best person in each lives of individual..they need or must succeed to sustain needs of the family.Learn to surf

    ReplyDelete
  15. This post was very well written and it also contains a lot of useful facts. I appreciated your professional way of writing this post. Thanks you have made it very easy for me to understand. myhorizonhome

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks for this beautifully written post with great knowledge.
    Life Experience Degree

    ReplyDelete
  17. There are some factors that you will need to know before you start taking any penis enlargement pills. When you are taking the pill, you will need to ensure that you drink plenty of water. Christmas Wishes
    Happy Valentine's Day 2016
    Valentine Week 2016

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for posting such a great article! I found your website perfect for my needs. It contains wonderful and helpful posts.Bike Accident Lawyer Key West

    ReplyDelete
  19. Would it not be possible to give everyone a choice and retain a bit of freedom by saying which areas people should not smoke in, eg. right near buildings and entrances,Dental treatment Abroad

    ReplyDelete
  20. As part of an assignment for research I have to find an article with relevant information on this topic and give the teacher our opinion and the article. Your article helped me a lot.carnival

    ReplyDelete
  21. I simply want to tell you that I am new to weblog and definitely liked this blog site. I have been meaning to write something like this on my website and you have given me an idea.domain names and registration

    ReplyDelete
  22. As part of an assignment for research I have to find an article with relevant information on this topic and give the teacher our opinion and the article. Your article helped me a lot.Resin Bonded Driveways

    ReplyDelete
  23. Total of us extract obtained essentially obtained an superb skill by contemplatives of respect in requisition to distract relating to an atypical internet employee.Key West Bike Accident Lawyer

    ReplyDelete
  24. Good blog post. I want to thank you for interesting and helpful information and I like your point of view. Thank you!Helvetic clinics, dentist in Budapest

    ReplyDelete
  25. I love reading through a post that will make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!www.postings.com

    ReplyDelete
  26. The particular way ‘pro’ happen to be redefined by simply many fortuitouss online in order to new. However, your own personal injury dilemmas where to onus professional recommend pauses who advised your trawl exploration with this way. Someone capture also been connected with great prevent.clarkmartino

    ReplyDelete
  27. MATLAB Assignment Help
    Another incredible post, I value all the work you put into this site, assisting others with your fun and inventive works.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Electrical Assignment Help
    The key is to give the peruser a little look into your experience, which urges them to need to take in more by perusing your resume

    ReplyDelete
  29. Really i appreciate the effort you made to share the knowledge. This is really a great stuff for sharing. Keep it up . Thanks for sharing.
    University Essay Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  30. I simply want to tell you that I am new to weblog and definitely liked this blog site. I have been meaning to write something like this on my website and you have given me an idea.Bicycle Injury attorney Plantation

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi, very nice gifts above. These days people don't have time to go around the shop to buy a gift. I have a solution for that.Alternative Clothing

    ReplyDelete
  32. shak make different fours like banana shak and mango shak he is very good for health.pay as you go credit cards

    ReplyDelete
  33. It was wonderful experience getting free clash of clans hack tool and much more gems.perfumes hugo boss

    ReplyDelete
  34. I’ve read some good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a great informative website.Bound Gravel Driveway

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi buddy, your blog' s design is simple and clean and i like it. Your blog posts about Online Dissertation Help are superb. Please keep them coming. Greets!!Assignment Help

    ReplyDelete
  36. My friend recommended this blog and he was totally right keep up the fantastic work!matlab tutoring

    ReplyDelete
  37. did well They never display dissimilarity between the various customers which is also one of the best factors about these transporters. Since from their assistance record, we can able to see the transformation that they did.Tree Trimming Brooklyn

    ReplyDelete
  38. It is imperative that we read blog post very carefully. I am already done it and find that this post is really amazing.Loft conversion

    ReplyDelete
  39. I really appreciate your effort great work keep it up.conveyancing solicitors

    ReplyDelete
  40. Those who come to read your article will find lots of helpful and informative tips
    Content Creation Service

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thanks for such a great content on this website. 
    GRAPHS C++ Project Help

    ReplyDelete
  42. This is really great work. Thank you for sharing such a useful information here in the blog.
    C# Homework Help

    ReplyDelete
  43. this article has Lot fresh information lot Nice job
    http://www.findlocaltreeservice.com/tree-removal-nassau-county-ny/

    ReplyDelete
  44. My friend recommended this blog and he was totally right keep up the fantastic work! Civil Engineering online help

    ReplyDelete
  45. Student Essay Writing Service
    This is really a great stuff for sharing. Keep it up .Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  46. I must say we should have an online discussion on this.
    Website Hosting Pakistan

    ReplyDelete
  47. Goodness! It's wonderful to be sure! I am certain we can utilize numerous thoughts from this post for our assistance with exposition composing!
    Transfer Pricing at Cameco Corporation

    ReplyDelete
  48. This a good way to appreciate the teacher as they put their efforts to train students. UK dissertation Writers appreciates the teachers.
    Ivey case study analysis

    ReplyDelete
  49. Your article is extremely helpful exceptionally fascinating subject i am looking that sort of post thank for imparting to us keep it up.
    Case Analysis

    ReplyDelete
  50. I must say we should have an online discussion on this.
    case solution help

    ReplyDelete
  51. This site and the resources you provide is really nice keep it up.
    HBR Case Analysis

    ReplyDelete
  52. Those who come to read your article will find lots of helpful and informative tips
    Harvard case solution excel file

    ReplyDelete
  53. I purchased shoes at kicksvovo Air jordan 5 fire red release date, by way of example, throughout 2015 to convey a peice detailed subsidy plan of action, most notable, as well as pic campaign regarding fatal charge, wide-open merchants rental subsidies, in addition to a products assistance, and others. For the macro instruction point, jordans outlet online held national steep marketing publicity tactic, which often adds to the chemical markets morale. For the small rate, retro.com shoes equal given that the backup manufacturer to be expanded the down sides regarding scarcity of funding, specially pushed advancements financing maintain rules.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Thanks a lot for the post. It has helped me get some nice ideas. I hope I will see some really good result soon.
    Academic Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  55. Sociology Essay Help
    This is really great work. Thank you for sharing such a useful information here in the blog.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Student Essay Help
    Really i appreciate the effort you made to share the knowledge. This is really a great stuff for sharing. Keep it up . Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Custom Essay Writing Service
    I loved the way you discuss the topic great work thanks for the share Your informative post.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Good way of telling, good post to take facts regarding my presentation subject matter, which i am going to deliver in my college
    MICRO Economics Homework Help

    ReplyDelete
  59. This is really great work. Thank you for sharing such a good and useful information here in the blog for students.
    Electronics Engineering Assignment Help

    ReplyDelete
  60. Matlab Assignment Help
    This is really great work. Thank you for sharing such a useful information here in the blog for students.

    ReplyDelete
  61. My friend recommended this blog and he was totally right keep up the good work
    Statistics Homework Help

    ReplyDelete