grape leafMore and more leaves can be eaten these days.  Iceberg lettuce used to be all the rage a century ago or so, but now we have kale, chard, dandelion greens, spinach, arugula, bok choy, etc…  And the more obscure they are, the healthier they are for you, it seems!

And with the production of oil 100 years ago, more and more of these obscure leaves (and other fruit, vegetables, and the like) can be brought fresh to our grocery stores.  Which brings me to grape leaves.  These ancient relic are not in vogue with other leafy greens, maybe because they are not fresh and seem ancient.

Grape leaf rolls seem to be a delicacy, as opposed to kale, and the other leafy greens like spinach that we can eat in more and more ways.  We are so into the whole local, fresh movement here in America, that who would buy grape leaves when there’s so much more to choose from?

Grape leaves seem fruity and has the history of wine behind it.  It doesn’t look like you should eat them, but their history is thousands of years old.  The grape and wine are more nutritious than the leaf, but other leaves are more valuable than grape leaves, in terms of symbolism.  Fig, oak, strawberry, apple, beets, honeysuckle, and grape leaves all produce kinds of fruit (or nuts like acorns) of some sort, and their leaves are artistic and celebrated as symbols of happiness.

Grape leaves seem kind of gross; like we eat them just to pay tribute to the grape.  They’re edible and the grape must give them some flavor or vice versa.  It’s interesting that they are edible.  I don’t know of any other real food with a leaf in which we eat the leaf, unless you count beets!

Lettuce is really just something that’s come into their own in the last 100 years or so, but grape leaves have some history.

Grapevines were grown in Mesopotamia (which includes Greece, Turkey, and Arab countries) and it is in Greece where wine was invented.  Mind you, this was six thousands years before the Romans introduced wine to Britain and refined the wine process.  Grapes (and of course wine) are so huge everywhere in the world, but stuffed grape leaf rolls are not especially popular.  They’re probably a food that we feel we should eat to appreciate where wine comes from.

Maybe the under the radar wine countries that boast stuffed grape leaves (Romania, Turkey, Vietnam, Arabic, Bulgaria) would rather be proud of their stuffed grape leaves than their wine, because other countries far outstrip their wines’ quality and quantity.

So I made stuffed grape leaves today, and was super scared about making them because I didn’t want to have to eat all of them (there were like 50 grape leaves in a tiny bottle!).  I’ve had grape leaves before and wasn’t particularly pleased with the taste, but thought the stuffing would make up for the gag factor this time.  I decided to make a vegetarian stuffing with zucchini, carrots, eggplant, onion, and tomato, cilantro, and rice.

I guess they turned out ok because the filling tasted better than the leaf (thank God), but they seemed kind of old-fashioned.  However, since they are such a Middle Eastern food, I decided they must be good for me, and so with that, I will decidedly have one (or two) for dinner tonight and see what my college friend thinks of them when I take them to her house tomorrow night.