A Selection of Historic French Vegetables
As promised in an earlier post, let's review the story behind some French vegetables we are growing here in the southern United States.
Various Vilmorin-Andrieux catalogs provide the source material for the history behind some of these vegetables. These catalogs were known for having a wide variety of gardening options, but their legacy is best remembered by their botanical illustrations, as indicated in the example seen above, thanks to Deutsche Gartenbaubibliothek e.V via archive.org (specific link to this 1889 catalog is here).
While some French vegetables have obvious names such as the Parisienne Carrot, or Nantes Carrots, what about the Jaune Obtuse du Doubs Carrot? Introduced by Vilmorin-Andrieux in 1946, this large yellow carrot was named after the Doubs River running through France and Switzerland. Another one mentioned by the catalog was the St. Valery Carrot, which existed in France prior to the late 1800's but was formally introduced in 1885.
Another vegetable existing in France before 1885 was the Merveille des Quatre Saisons Lettuce, translated as a Marvel of Four Seasons. This burgundy-shaded heirloom is still quite popular in France. While it may grow well throughout the year for some areas, we are not taking chances, so they will be planted during Spring along with the rest of the French-themed vegetables.
As of this writing, there are high hopes for the Patisson Golden Marbre Squash, because seedlings have already appeared indoors. It seems the name pâtisson derives from something baked in a scallop-shaped pan, and the squash has a similar shape. We will have to wait and see if the "marbre" part is true, meaning "marble" in English, although some photos show a solid gold-yellow color.
Admittedly, it was difficult to trace the history of these vegetables, so I am grateful to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for providing some of this information in their descriptions of these vegetables. By the way, this is not an affiliation or paid endorsement of any sort, because I have not contacted them. I just wanted to share their catalog with you, because that is where I found these seeds and information. Perhaps you will find your own French heirlooms in their swoon-worthy catalog!