A noble swindler in one of the short stories by O. Henry uses the following phrase to describe Rockefeller: “He sat at the table, gloomily stooping his head over a glass of celery juice”. In other words, an “average American” believes that “a glass of celery juice” is absolutely essential for the description of a millionaire who is sick and tired of living in the lap of luxury. The celery in this case indicates the ultimate blandness of healthy food.
The modern dieticians seem to have read that short story by O. Henry. Montaignaque, Atkinson, and Shelton – all recommend the use of celery, be it in the raw or cooked. The vegetarians extol the plant’s properties. I came across a book on a celery-based diet in one of the Moscow book stores. Celery in the book was referred to as a cure-all for any disease. However, I began to feel somewhat skeptical about the celery panacea after I took a closer look at a book lying next to the tome. It praised the wonders of kerosene therapy.
My memory obliged me with a pretty fresh recollection of my latest trip to a restaurant, which, according to a menu, served numerous healthy food dishes featuring celery. Celery is a very trendy food item at the moment. Restaurants and supermarkets offer a number of the so-called energy cocktails with celery, along with an array of freshly squeezed celery juice with a dash of carrot or apple, celery soups and salads.
Another flash of recollection carried me back to a festival of aphrodisiacs with celery salads and juice that were served for free to the participants in honor of the Winter Olympics. So is there any rational explanation of all that fuss over celery?
The first traces of a rational explanation can be found in the works of Hippocrates who prescribed celery as a remedy for soothing disturbed nerves. Marquise de Pompadour, a mistress of Louis XV, would drink a cup of hot chocolate spiced with celery and amber prior to a romantic rendezvous with the king. Giovanni Jacopo Casanova also included celery in his diet. The plant was believed to act as a powerful erotic stimulant.
According to modern medicine, celery juice can give a boost to the overall condition of the body, it can also enhance appetite, and has antitoxic, diuretic and laxative properties. Celery juice contains vitamin C, and vitamins of the group B. It is also rich in organic potassium, calcium and phosphorus, which are essential in maintaining endurance of the body under a great deal of fatigue. Besides, the root of celery contains proteins, carotene, choline, and mucilages. Therefore, celery is used as an antiphlogistic and diuretic medicine for treatment of pyelonephritis and cystitis.
Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences A. E. Alexeiyev recommends that a health-conscious person start up his day by eating 1or 2 tablespoons of a “wet salad” or raw vegetables.
The following ingredients are needed for a “wet salad:” carrot, cabbage, root of celery, black radish, raw potato, parsley and horseradish.
A celery-based diet is also recommended for the patients diagnosed with obesity, gout, allergic hay fever; different kinds of dermatitis, ulcer; chronic constipation, and painful menstruation. Celery has the highest selenium content, which is required for the synthesis of iodine-containing hormones of the thyroid gland. Selenium enables normal development of the ovum.
As for calories in celery, its number is extremely low. In fact, it is next to nothing.
By all appearances, the latest fashion wave has brought a truly beneficial foodstuff ashore. But what shall we do about that sour expression on the face of the American millionaire? Shall we continue abusing our taste receptors? No, we shall not.
The bitter and strong-smelling celery has changed considerably since 17th century. Italian agriculturists bred a number or varieties of it including root, leaf and stalked celery.
The fresh root celery is best served when mixed with carrot and apple. It can be stewed as a buttered puree. The stalked celery can be served both raw and cooked. It can be cooked like any other vegetable i.e. fried, stewed, steamed, and grilled.
Grate the root of celery. Add milk, yolks, semolina and a pinch of salt. Allow the mixture to settle for awhile. Add the whipped egg whites the moment you place the frying pan onto a stove. Deep-fry the mixture and serve it with honey or sour cream.
Invigorating celery drink
Add a tablespoon of grated celery root in a tall glass of tomato juice. Add a generous amount of chipped ice.
By the bye, there is a celery-based dish in the cuisine of practically every country in the world. Spanish cuisine offers a fish salad with celery, green olives. The Spanish also cook a tomato and celery soup spiced with garlic. French cuisine has a celery casserole under béchamel sauce, and foie gras with celery jelly. Eastern cuisine offers a chicken stuffed with celery puree and spices. Jewish cuisine has a meet dish with sauerkraut and celery. The Irish meat pie is stuffed with equal qualities of pork and celery. Celery features in the Italian risotto. Celery is also used in a variety of rice dishes in Japanese, Korean, and Thai cuisine. Lithuania is often jokingly referred to as the “country of fried celery.”
Translated by Guerman Grachev
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