" He who sees fennel and gathers it not, is not a man but a devil."

The Book of Iago ab Dewi.

" Fennel in potage and in mete is good to done whane yu schalt ete. All grene looke it be corwyn (carved) small In what mete you usyn schall."

Fourteenth Century MS,

" Then went I forth on my right hond
Downe by a little path I fond
Of mintes full and fennell greene."


" Above the lowly plants it towers,
The fennel, with its yellow flowers,
And in an earlier age than ours
Was gifted with the wondrous powers,
Lost vision to restore.
It gave new strength and fearless mood ;
And gladiators., fierce and rude.
Mingled it in their daily food ;
And he who battled and subdued,
A wreath of fennel wore."

Longfellow, The Goblet of Life.

We only use fennel in fennel sauce, and that far too seldom, for it is a most wholesome herb. In the Middle Ages the poor folk used it not only to relieve the pangs of hunger, but also to make unsavoury food palatable. It was also used in large quantities in the households of the rich, and Miss Amherst points out that from the Wardrobe Accounts of Edward I's household, it may be seen that eight and a half pounds of fennel were brought for one month's supply. Finnochio is a popular Italian dish, and this sweet fennel is now becoming more common in English gardens.

Fennel has always been renowned for its power of restoring the eyesight since Pliny's days, and one herbalist tells us, " A serpent doth so hate the ashtree that she will not come nigh the shadow of it, but she delights in fennel very much, which she eates to cleare her eyesight." Formerly, the seeds used to be coated with sugar and eaten like Coriander seeds. The young stalks were peeled and used like celery, and the tender tufts and leaves were an ingredient in Salads.

FENNEL can be raised either by sowing the seed in the spring, or by dividing the roots at any time excepting when the plant is in flower.


Take fennel and seethe it in water, a very good quantity, and wring out the juice thereof when it is sod, and drink it first and last, and it shall swage either him or her.

T. Dawson, The Good Housewife's Jewell, 1585.


Take young Fennel about a span long, in the spring, tye it up in bunches as you do Sparragrass;
when your Skillet boyls, put in enough to make a dish ; when it is boyled and drained, dish it up as you do Sparragrass, pour on Butter and Vinegar and send it up.

William Rabisha, The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected, 1675.


Take the branches of fennel, make them very clean, and lay them a drying, and when they are dry take the white of an Egg and a little orange-flower water, beat this well together, and dip your Fennel into it and let it steep a little, then sprinkle fine sugar in powder over it, and lay it to dry before the fire upon a sheet of paper.

A Perfect School of Instructions for the Officers of the Month, by Giles Rose, one of the Master Cooks to Charles II, 1682.


Brown some Butter in a saucepan with a pinch of flour, then put in a few cives shred small, add a little Irish broth to moisten it, season with salt and pepper ; make these boil, then put in two or three sprigs of Fennel and some Gooseberries. Let all simmer together till the Gooseberries are soft and then put in some Cullis.

From The Receipt Book of Henry Howard, Free Cook of London, 1710; and Cook to the Duke of


Make water boil, tie your Fennel up in bunches and put them into the water; give them half a dozen Walms; drain them, put them into a Pot, and let your Pickle be Vinegar.

From The Receipt Book of John Nott, Cook to the Duke of Bolton, 1723.


Half a pint of boiling water poured on a teaspoonful of bruised fennel seeds.

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