Did You Know?
The ancient Greeks called watercress kardamon; they believed it could brighten their intellect, hence their proverb “Eat watercress and get wit.”
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is thought to have decided on the location for his first hospital because of its proximity to a stream so he could use only the freshest watercress to treat his patients.
Philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon (1561-1626) claimed it could restore a youthful bloom to women.
Romans and Anglo Saxons ate it to prevent baldness.
The Egyptian Pharoahs served freshly squeezed watercress juice to their slaves each morning and afternoon in order to increase their productivity.
Watercress is believed by many to be an aphrodisiac. In Crete, islanders swear by its powers and ancient recipes are handed down from one generation to the next. In the 1970s, an Arab prince was reputed to have had special consignments flown out from the UK, presumably to help him satisfy his harem! And in Hampshire its special powers are part of folklore.
Eating a bag of watercress is said to be a good cure for a hang-over.
Postman Pat’s favourite sandwich is Watercress & Cheese.
According to Cretan legend watercress grew in the springs of the Dikton Cave on Crete where the god Zeus is said to have eaten the plant to fortify himself against his murderous father Cronos.
Roman emperors ate it to help them make ‘bold decisions.’
Anglo-Saxons swore by watercress potage to ‘spring clean’ the blood.
Irish monks were said to survive for long periods eating only bread and watercress and referred to watercress as ‘pure food for sages.’
The juice pressed from watercress was used for gravies to accompany roast meats in medieval France.
The herbalist John Gerard extolled watercress as an anti-scorbutic (remedy for scurvy) as early as 1636. No doubt in those days it was far easier to come by than oranges – a foreign extravagance.
One of Britain’s best known dishes, watercress soup, became very popular in the 17th century when it was claimed to cleanse the blood.
Victorians thought the plant was a cure for toothache, hiccups and even freckles!
Watercress was often eaten in-between courses to cleanse the palate.
Watercress was promoted during the First World War as an important health giving home grown food.
In the 1960s, the strongest demand for watercress came from the north, where whatever the family income, high tea reigned supreme.
It is a well-known fact that Liz Hurley was a follower of the watercress diet, but more recently Sex Pistol star John Lydon was seen to enthuse about watercress soup recipes with fellow participants of ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’
Watercress is mentioned so often as an ingredient in detox vegetable juice recipes and as a cure for a variety of ills, that it could virtually be viewed as a staple part of the regime for those wishing to juice their way to health.