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Ingredient of the week
Before the French word cèpe was applied to this kind of mushrooms, it was known by the name bolete. The Ancient Greeks called it bolites, and the Romans knew it as boletus, the name that has endured in its botanical classification.
They were popular with the latter, with boleti mentioned in the writings of Seneca, Pliny the Elder, and Martial, who wrote: “It is easy to offer silver and gold, a mantle, or a toga. But to offer boletes, now that is difficult". In the Apicius they are cooked soaked in wine, seasoned with cilantro, and thickened with honey or egg yolk.
Ceps have always been picked. In the 18th century, what is now known as the cèpe in France was also called the "Mushroom of Poland", because when in Lorraine, the former king of Poland, Stanislas Leszczynski, enjoyed them and encouraged their consumption. At the time they were salted and stored in barrels.
The name cèpe de Bordeaux or Bordeaux cep was introduced into the language of gastronomy in the 19th century when Parisians were supplied by growers in the Bordeaux area.
It was only in the 1950s that it became popular in the broader populations, with the word cèpe becoming officially recognized by French law in 1971 to prevent abuses being committed in their sale.