1READING 17-1By Maria LykoudisIn Search of SilphionA botanical-horticultural riddle: what is the plant the Romans called laser, laserpitium, or silphium, the English laserwortor magydare, the Arabs asa(hence asafoetida), and the Indians hing? Answer: a plant that might be lost forever and the Greeks called it silphion.I became interested in the silphion question in a curious way. My avocation is cooking, my training is in archeology, and my nationality is Greek. In an effort to reconcile my divergent interests I attempted to recreate some of the grandecuisineof ancient Greece, only to fnd that I lacked a vital and intriguing ingredient—silphion. Consider the problems of some future culinary sleuth in the 45th century trying to duplicate French cuisine of the 19th century without parsley. Hence, my journey in search of silphion.Silphion must have been a wondrous condiment for it is lavishly referred to in Greek writings as early as the 7th century BC and is continually mentioned up to the lst century AD.
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