Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rucola - Rucola - Arugula - Rocket - Roka

In the days before  Linnaeus things were easy for herb enthusiasts. If two herbs or spices looked and/or tasted the same, one would just add an adjective in front to make the distinction. It looks like radish, but it taste different? Call it horse radish. It tastes like Marjoram, but grows in the wild? Call it wild marjoram.

This naming convention leads to many confusions to the modern food enthusiast, who suddenly, can taste items from across the globe in the convenience of  their supermarket alleys. One of my biggest confusions regards the bitter leaves of what I grew to know as "Roka" in Turkey. I'll try to clean this confusion with the help of Wikipedia and the great Carl Linnaeus.


This is what I know as Roka in Turkish. Its species name is Eruca Satvia, and is known as Arugula or Rocket in the English-speaking world. In Italian its called the Rucola comune, i.e. the common rucola. I guess both Germans and Turks have taken the word from Italians.



This on the other hand is the plant that is sold in Germany under the name Rucola. Its botanic name is
diplotaxis tenuifolia. Its known in in English world as wild rocket, and as far I know is not known in Turkey.

Germans name the Eruca Satvia the Senf-Rauke, mustard rocket, and the Diplotaxis the Stinkrauke, stinking rocket. But commercially both are sold under the name Rukola, with the "stinking" version dominating the market, precisely because it doesn't stink and is milder than the "mustard version".

Next time you're confused about the types of Rucola, you know where you'll look.

Links in this post:
English Wiki Entry for Arugula/Rocket/Roka/Senf-Rauke.
English Wiki Entry for Diplotaxis tenuifolia/Wild Rocket/-/Stink-rauke.
Wiki Entry for the great Carl Linnaeus.

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