Spinach (Lapathum hortense) is a Persian plant which has been cultivated in our gardens for about two hundred years; and considerably longer on the Continent. Some say the Spinach was originally brought from Spain. It was produced by monks in France at the middle of the 14th century.
This is a light vegetable, easily digested, and rather laxative, besides having some wonderful properties ascribed to its use. Its sub-order, the Saltworts (Salsolaceoe), are found growing in marshes by the seashore, and as weeds by waste places, serving some of them to expel worms.
"Spinach," says John Evelyn, "if crude, the oft'ner kept out of Sallets the better; but being boiled to a pulp; and without other water than its own moisture, is a most excellent condiment with butter, vinegar, or lemon, for almost all sorts of boiled flesh, and may accompany a sick man's diet. 'Tis laxative and emollient, and therefore profitable for the aged." Spinach is richer in iron than the yolk of the egg, which contains more than beef. Its juice produced in cooking the leaves without adding any water is a wholesome drink, and improves the complexion.
It was with a delicate offering of "gammon and spinach" in his hands, Mr. Anthony Roley, of nursery fame, went so sadly a wooing:--
"Ranula furtivos statuebat quaoerere amores: Me miserum! tristi Rolius ore gemit. Ranula furtivos statuebat quoerere amores, Mater sive daret, sive negaret iter."
A wild species of Spinach, the "Good King Henry," grows in England, and is popular as a pot herb in Lincolnshire.