There’s a reason, actually more like a half dozen, that spinach is associate with strength. There will ever be Popeye, that muscle-laded sailor with his anchor tattoo, his Twiggy shaped girlfriend, Olive Oyl and his hamburger craving friend Wimpy. Poor Popeye. He didn’t seem to be aware that all spinach doesn’t come out of a can. Today, he could enjoy spinach burgers, spinach pizza, spinach bacon and mushroom salads, just to list a few of those things more interesting than what comes in a can. Alice Waters brought us a long way, baby.
Spinach is truly one of the world’s great superfoods. It is rich in iron, calcium, potassium, folic acid and vitamins A, B2, B6, C, E and K. And it’s got a fair amount of antis too: antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and anticancer agents. A fine vegetable to have on your side and your table. The French fortified wine with spinach to feed to their WWI wounded. Leave it to the French to find another way to use their wine.
Though the Chinese have been cultivating and consuming spinach for 5,000 years, this vegetable is thought to have come from Ancient Persia. The Saracens took it to Sicily in the 9th C. The oldest known cookbook in England, the Forme of Cury, refers to it as spynoches in the 14th C. Strangely, Catherine de Medici brought it to France as part of her food dowry in the 16th C. Ever after, French spinach dishes were named Florentine, where the lady was born.