What vegetable was prized by the Romans?
Asparagus was an esteemed delicacy in ancient Rome. Early Greeks and Romans called it asparag, the Persian word for shoot. After harvest, the crop was transported by swift chariot to the Alps, where it was then buried in deep snow. After 6-months it was retrieved in time for Rome's Feast of Epicurius. It is said that Emperor Augustus built a special fleet of ships to deliver the fresh stalks around the empire. Considered best cooked al dente, the catch-phrase, "quicker than it takes to cook asparagus" was a common first century expression. According to Pliny the Elder, asparagus was an aphrodisiac. Reportedly, Julius Caesar preferred his with melted butter.