Vegetable Origins for 17th Century People



We eat them all the time, but where did this exotic looking fruit and veg originate from?



Tomatoes are native to South America. The Spaniards came across them in the 16th century. However, tomatoes were unknown in England until the end of the 16th century. It’s use as a food originated in Mexico and spread throughout the world following the Spanish colonisation of the Americas. The word “tomato” comes from the Spanish tomate and first appeared in print in 1595.


It is not known for certain when broccoli was first eaten. The Romans ate a vegetable that may have been broccoli. It was certainly eaten in France and Italy in the 16th century. Broccoli was introduced into England from Antwerp in the mid-18th century by Peter Scheemakers. Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family.

Brussel sprouts

Brussels sprouts became popular in most of Europe in the 16th century and in England in the 17th century. Forerunners to modern Brussels sprouts were likely cultivated in Ancient Rome. Brussels sprouts as they are now known were grown possibly as early as the 13th century in what is now Belgium. The first written reference dates to 1587. During the 16th century, they enjoyed a popularity in the southern Netherlands that eventually spread throughout the cooler parts of Northern Europe.


Celery is native to the Mediterranean. Wild celery was known to the Greeks and Romans. However, cultivation of celery only began in Europe in the 17th century. First attested in English in 1664, the word “celery” derives from the French céleri, and its late arrival in the English kitchen is an end-product of the long tradition of seed selection needed to reduce the sap’s bitterness and increase its sugars. By 1699, John Evelyn could recommend it in his Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets.

Runner beans

Runner beans are native to central America and were grown there long before they were discovered by Europeans in the 16th century. Runner beans were first grown in England in the 17th century.
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