The Ancient Romans cultivated a variety of vegetables that have largely remained the same in appearance, such as cabbage, lettuce, endive, onion, leek, asparagus, radishes, turnips, parsnips, olives and beans. However, carrots (and their seeds), which the Romans believed were aphrodisiacs, were most likely a different colour. Originally purple or white with a thin, forked root, they lost their purple pigment in time and took on their familiar orange hue when popularised by the Dutch in the 16th century.
Carrot seeds were the principal ingredient for certain antidoting poisons, found in recipes at the disposal of Mithridates VI, King of Pontius, in circa 100BC. When re-concocted, the formula has been proven to be still effective. Following the fall of Rome, carrot cultivation in Europe effectively ground to a halt until around the 10th century when Arabs reintroduced them to Europe.
Image – Caseggiato del Termopolio, Rome, Italy – Roman tavern wall painting