Mesclun

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Mesclun
Salade mesclun et chèvre chaud sur toasts.jpg
Type Salad
Place of origin France
Region or state Provence
Main ingredients Chervil, arugula, leafy lettuces, endive, chive

Mesclun (French pronunciation: ​[mɛsˈklœ̃]) is a mix of assorted small young salad greens that originated in Provence, France. The traditional mix includes chervil, arugula, leafy lettuces and endive, while the term mesclun may also refer to a blend [1] that might include some or all of these four and baby spinach, Swiss chard (silver beet), mustard greens, dandelion, frisée, mizuna, mâche (lamb's lettuce), radicchio, sorrel, or other fresh leaf vegetables.

Origins[edit]

The term mesclum for a mixture of young salad greens is quite recent, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary first used in 1976.[1] Of Provençal dialect origin, it derives from the verb mesclar, to "mix thoroughly," and literally means, "mixture."[2] According to local lore, mesclun originated with the farmers around Nice, who would each bring their own unique and prized mix of baby greens to the farmers' markets; one of the most representative and authentic versions combined baby dandelion, lettuce and arugula.[3]

Noted chef Alice Waters comments, "Outdoor markets in Provence display mesclun in profusion, a melange of the first tender young leaves which appear in the garden. Mesclun can be an extraordinary lettuce mixture: rocket, much like the rugola (arugula) found in Italian markets; chervil; mâche, or lamb's lettuce; and oak leaf. On occasion, baby curly endive (chicory) or young dandelion greens find their way into the medley, depending solely upon the grower's personal preferences combined with the reality of whatever else might send up shoots in the spot where mesclun grows."[4]

Spring mix[edit]

In the North American foodservice industry, the first appearance of mesclun traces to restaurants and farm stands in the early 1980s, with a rise in popularity since. A mesclun mix is described[by whom?] as comprising baby leaves of lettuces and other greens (and often herbs) in a wide range of leaf shapes, colors, textures, and tastes. While the overwhelming amount of mesclun sold approximates the traditional blend of chervil, arugula, leafy lettuces and endive, depending on the season anywhere from a dozen to three dozen different varieties of baby greens, including red and green oak leaves, romaine and lolla rossa lettuces, frisée, tatsoi, bok choy (joi choi), arugula, spinach, orach, mizuna, dandelion, mustard greens, and garden cress may comprise what is commercially referred to as a "Spring mix". When available, locally grown, direct-from-the-farmer sourcing is recommended over commercial bulk packs for best flavor and freshness.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "mesclun". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "mesclun". Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford University Press). Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Davis, Hillary (2013). Cuisine Nicoise: Sun-kissed Cooking from the French Riviera. Gibbs Smith. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-4236-3294-8. 
  4. ^ Waters, Alice (1995). Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook. Random House. ISBN 9780679758181. 
  5. ^ Brad Matthews; Paul Wigsten (2011). Kitchen Pro Series: Guide to Produce Identification, Fabrication and Utilization. Culinary Institute of America (Delmar/Cengage Learning). p. 25. ISBN 9781435401211.